Adam Wharton's rise from the Brockhall Academy pitches to national recognition is another reminder of Blackburn Rovers' biggest asset.

The Wilpshire Pirlo is no longer a hidden secret after being called up by Gareth Southgate for England's training squad this week.

Observers at Ewood Park have long known the 20-year-old was destined for great things. Those down in the trenches at the Academy have known for far longer.

It is one thing to have the natural talent Wharton possesses but it's another thing extracting it. It requires dedication from the player, a stable family background, and a club that has the right characteristics to turn potential into Premier League ready players.

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Whilst Wharton may be the first top-flight talent Rovers have produced for a few years, the first-team is littered with Academy talent. It was Wharton and Jake Garrett last year, this season Harry Leonard. Zak Gilsenan may be the next success story.

Having a Category One Academy, which costs Rovers over £3million per year. It's an investment that continues to draw fruit, though, and is viewed by many as the 'jewel in the crown'.

"We're not taking anything away from any other departments to say the Academy is a huge asset," Stuart Jones, Head of Rovers Academy, tells The Lancashire Telegraph.

"That said, unless you have a philosophy, a real commitment and passion from those above in first-team staff to give opportunity, then it doesn't matter.

"That's where we have been fortunate over the years. We've had staff, the board and owners, that want to invest in the Academy, continue to be Category One and the benefits that come with it.

"Adam grew up in this system, as have many others. He came in 12 years ago now when he was starting out and we have retained Category One status. The owners have continued to fund that.

"Without doubt, it's so important that you have a way of playing, a DNA, a style and a philosophy. 

"It's really important that is aligned into the Under-21, Under-18s and through the system. It's clear that we have benefited from that.

"I'm sure under our new gaffer we will continue to do that."

Jon Dahl Tomasson was not shy in using the Academy to bolster his squad. John Eustace was appointed having the background of offering more minutes to Under-21 players in the Championship at Birmingham City in 2022/23.

The important thing for young players is to see the pathway. Job one is to make it into the first team, develop and then progress through the ranks.

A success story like Wharton's shows the perfect example of how to nurture and develop young talent, whilst protecting the club who have invested so much.

For the likes of Leonard, Garrett, Gilsenan and many more to come, that is the pathway they hope to follow.

"You look at Adam and how he has stepped up to the Premier League, it's our first one in many years to do that, but I look at the team sheet every Saturday and I see the number of players in the first tea and the percentage and minutes (from the Academy)," Jones continued.

"Over the years, it's been a huge success, past and present. The staff have had a really big impact on that and long may it continue because the challenges grow more and more.

"We have some exciting talent coming through and it's very important to know we have a football club that wants to give opportunities to young players.

"We have first-team staff that want to work, develop and give opportunities. I think that's really important and hopefully, in years to come, there will be more Adam Whartons."

He added: "Ultimately, young players will break in and we want them to play 50, 60 games in our first-team. Hopefully, you hit the Premier League with our football club but if you don't, the nature of the beast means people will look at our young players, like Adam Wharton.

"They can progress that way too, there is a pathway, opportunities and then it's up to the players to grasp it."