SCOTT Wharton is looking to follow in the footsteps of Darragh Lenihan after signing a new long-term contract at Rovers.

Wharton penned a new three-year deal with the club on Monday, extending his stay at Ewood Park to 2020.

The Salesbury-born defender is now looking to break into the first-team picture, and sees fellow youth team product Lenihan’s pathway as the perfect one to follow.

Like Wharton, who spent time on loan at Cambridge United last season, Lenihan had a loan spell away from Rovers in League Two.

And although currently sidelined by injury, Lenihan has grown to become a key figure at the club, making 75 appearances in all competitions.

“Darragh is a good person to look up to,” Wharton told the Lancashire Telegraph.

“He has found his way in to the squad and become a regular now and definitely someone that I can learn from.

“Charlie (Mulgrew) is a great pro, I can always learn things from him.

“He’s a very experienced professional and I can always watch and learn from him.

“Being around the first-team is good, and I’m learning things every day.”

Wharton hopes to return to first-team training next week, having been left frustrated by two separate ankle injuries during the early weeks of the season.

He made four senior appearances for Rovers last term, before being allowed to join Cambridge in January where he played nine times for the League Two side.

And on that loan spell, he added: “I think I learned a lot last season going out on loan to Cambridge in League Two.

“I think I became a better player, learned a lot under Shaun Derry and I was looking forward to coming back this season.

“It is a bit different (to Academy football) as it is a physical league and it’s very demanding of your body, but it was a good experience.

“I have taken a little step back but looking to get back on track.”

Wharton, who joined Rovers as a 12-year-old, became the latest Academy graduate to commit his long-term future to the club.

He was in the last 12 months of his previous deal, but delighted to extend his stay at his boyhood club.

“I’m very pleased,” he said of his new deal.

“I’ve been here since I was 12 so it was a very straightforward decision for me.

“I am looking to become a better player and think that I can do that here.

“I’m a local lad, I support the club and it’s the one that I want to play for.”

Wharton will be unable to go out on loan and gain further Football League experience with the window now closed until January.

He admits another loan spell would be a possibility, as he looks to make further improvements to his game.

But first of all he is eyeing getting back fit and trying to force his way in to Tony Mowbray’s senior squad.

“I have been back on the grass with the physios so hopefully I will be back training next week.

“It has been frustrating, my season hasn’t really started yet as I’ve had to injuries on my ankle.

“The second one was just blocking a shot, and it was on the same ankle so it is frustrating but I’m looking forward to getting back.”