TONY Mowbray says Rovers should embrace, rather than fear, handing the club's Academy graduates opportunities in the midst of a growing injury list.

Rovers will be without seven first-team players for the crunch clash with promotion rivals Shrewsbury Town at Ewood Park.

Experienced central midfield duo Corry Evans (thigh) and Peter Whittingham (calf) are both ruled out, with Lewis Travis and Willem Tomlinson vying for the spot next to Richie Smallwood in the middle of the park.

After impressing in a 50 minute cameo in the FA Cup defeat to Hull City last weekend, 20-year-old Travis looks well placed to be handed what would be a first league start.

“I think Travis has had a couple of appearances and shown up extremely well. He is very competitive, athletic and moves the ball, keeps it simple and by nature he’s a winner and has had an exceptionally good season for the Under-23s,” Mowbray said.

“If that’s the case when we move forward then that’s the case and we shouldn’t fear that but embrace the young players getting an opportunity.”

Whittingham picked up his injury in training last Friday, while Evans was forced off in the FA Cup defeat. Marcus Antonsson (ankle) is set for an extended absence, while Ben Gladwin (knee), Harry Chapman (hamstring) and Darragh Lenihan (ankle) are longer-term injuries.

Mowbray added: “All are still missing.

“Antonsson is going to be maybe a month but it’s really difficult to put timescales on them.

“Peter will be a similar sort of time I think, he’s popped his calf, Corry hopefully won’t be as long as that but he won’t be available for this weekend.

“Gladwin will be a month or so, Lenihan is running so he won’t be that far away and hopefully his running will become sprinting pretty soon and then kicking and joining in, I think it will be week before a return for Darragh.”

A second v third clash, Rovers will be looking to close the gap to the automatic promotion spots to two points. And Mowbray insists his players are ready for the challenge ahead.

He said: “Shrewsbury have a high energy team, some wonderful athletic footballers and we are mindful of that.

“But we can match that athleticism and desire that they have shown and let's see if we can come out on top.

“No-one should be questioning the desire or commitment of our team, the players are ready for the challenge.

“There’s no guarantees we’re going to win because we’re giving everything as Shrewsbury have shown all season they can get results.

“It won’t be through a lack of desire to do well and it’s a game we’re really looking forward to.”