Rovers pre-season preparations are complete.
The majority had been laid out prior to Tony Mowbray’s departure, as Rovers planned ahead, but it will be new head coach Jon Dahl Tomasson leading the team.
Rovers were back earlier than expected, some of the squad back as early as June 13, to prepare for the upcoming season which starts on July 30.
A main strand of pre-season is the friendlies.
Rovers will again be without a home fixture, having played only three close season matches at Ewood since promotion from League One.
That was always the likelihood, given the expected delays to the pitch works on the back of the planned SummerFest concert at the end of May. With that postponement, Rovers were able to bring forward that maintenance work, with the pitch already looking in good order six weeks out.
Pre-season will begin to step up this week, by the end of which Rovers will be in Portugal for a week-long training camp, though no games are scheduled.
Rovers headed to Portugal in the early part of 2020, and had planned to return last summer, only for Covid restrictions to shelve those plans. They were pushed back to this summer, with Rovers to head there at the end of this week.
An extended squad, including a host of Academy prospects, will travel. Ben Brereton was granted an extended period off following his international commitments, and will return to pre-season training this week, with the hope of him making the Portugal trip.
Rovers will return from that on the eve of the opening pre-season friendly at Accrington Stanley on July 9. That will be first time fans will be able to see the new-look Rovers, the first of five friendly matches.
The following week, Rovers head north of the border. Having seen their Portugal plans fall through last summer, the players instead headed to Stirling University to be put through their paces, and that is where they will return.
The final friendly to be arranged was against Dundee on Wednesday, July 13, managed by former Rovers boss Gary Bowyer.
That will form the first part of their Scottish double-header, with a trip to Celtic Park on Saturday, July 16 for what will be their ‘marquee friendly’ fixture.
It will be back to Brockhall after that for the final stages of pre-season, and two more friendlies leading into the season.
Rovers will face Hartlepool United on Wednesday, July 20, before rounding off their pre-season games with a trip to Lincoln City on Saturday, July 23, a week out from the start of the new season.
Tomasson has already stressed the importance of this pre-season in getting his methods across.
He had a watching brief over the final training sessions of last week, as the final pieces of his work permit paperwork were completed, but the new head coach is eager to get to work.
Under Mowbray, Rovers tended to spend the early part of pre-season away from their Brockhall base, spending the summers of 2017, 2018 and 2019 in Austria.
Trips to Portugal and Scotland will break up the pre-season, and will also give Tomasson and his new staff the perfect opportunity to build relationships with the squad.
It will also be a great chance for some of Rovers’ Academy prospects to push their claims forward for involvement in the upcoming season, and force a re-think to any potential recruitment plans.
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