Tony Mowbray believes Rovers are operating in ‘the middle of the Championship food chain’ but could see the club matching the level of fee spent on Ben Brereton last summer.

Brereton arrived from Nottingham Forest, initially on loan, before a deal in the region of £6m was triggered in January. The 20-year-old made just four Championship starts, and didn’t open his account until April, but Mowbray has faith the England youth international can hit form next season.

The attacker was a late addition with Rovers having seen moves for the likes of John McGinn, Bersant Celina and Luke Freeman fail to materialise.

Rovers will be operating on a similar level budget this season, with funds available for Mowbray as he looks to build on last season’s 15th-placed finish.

Asked if Rovers could spend a similar fee this summer, Mowbray said: “I think so.

“What happened last year was that our targets disappeared and we had some money to spend.

“I didn’t want it burning a hole in our pocket.

“I used it to invest underneath so I knew we had a player that would bubble under and become a big player for this club.

“Ben was brought in pretty late in that window because the money wasn’t spent on three £2m footballers.

“We were trying to sign players and they kept dropping away one by one because they went to clubs for £5,000 a week more.

“You are fighting against that. We are where we are in the food chain of the Championship.”

Brereton endured a difficult first season at Ewood Park, managing just four Championship starts and having to wait until late April for his first goal.

The England Under-20s international struggled to force his way beyond Danny Graham and Bradley Dack at the head of the Rovers attack, and was more often used out wide when given his opportunity.

Mowbray hopes the experience of the last year, and becoming more settled within the dressing room, will be beneficial for Brereton who he has backed to hit the ground running next season.

The boss added: “As time erodes away I’m sure people will be saying ‘how did you get Ben Brereton?’.

“Ben is finding his feet in the dressing room, along with Charlie Mulgrew, Graham, Dack, some big personalities.

“Ben’s talent is there, the players respect that, and I have to give him those opportunities and a year on I’m sure that will happen.”