STEVE Kean says Robbie Cotton could be soon pushing for a place in Blackburn Rovers’ first team after the club confirmed the young midfielder’s first professional contract yesterday.

Cotton penned the three-year deal on his 17th birthday last week and has been tipped as a star of the future.

The England youth international has even been likened to Steven Gerrard and was an unused substitute in Rovers’ FA Cup tie against QPR last season.

Cotton has now been handed the squad number 40 for the 2011/12 campaign and Kean said: “Robbie is a youngster with great natural ability, who we hold in very high regard.

“Even at the tender age of 17, he has already shown enough to suggest that he could make an impact with the senior squad in the near future.

“He is the latest in a long line of young players coming through the ranks here and we are delighted to see him signing a full professional contract.”

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