Rovers could utilise tonight’s Lancashire Senior Cup semi-final with Bury at Leyland (7pm) as a chance to hand minutes to a number of first-team players.

Peter Whittingham could be one senior man who may benefit from a run-out as he continues his recovery from a calf injury which has ruled him out since the start of the year.

Whittingham hasn’t played since December having picked up the problem in training in the lead up to the FA Cup defeat to Hull City.

That came just weeks after the midfielder had limped out of the win at Peterborough on December 9 with a similar injury, but he has returned to first-team training.

The summer signing from Cardiff City has played 20 times since his move to the club and Tony Mowbray will be keen for the 33-year-old to make a first-team return to boost his options in the middle of the park.

And with no midweek matches for the next three weeks, and Rovers entering the final 10 games of the season, Mowbray may use the game as an opportunity to hand game-time to some of his fringe players, with the likes of Craig Conway and Dominic Samuel just back from injury.

However, the fixture may come too soon for midfielder Ben Gladwin who has been out since November with a knee injury.

Damien Johnson’s side will be aiming to book their place in the final and go one stage further than they did last year when they were knocked out in the semi-finals by Fleetwood Town on penalties.

Winners of the tournament a record 18 times, Rovers haven’t made the final since 2011.

They needed a penalties win of their own in round one to beat a strong Wigan Athletic side after they drew 2-2 after normal time.

The quarter-finals pitted them against Morecambe and they eased in to the last four courtesy of goals from Matty Platt, a Lewis Hardcastle penalty and late Callum Wright spot-kick.

The game comes as part of a busy period for the Under-23s who beat Stoke City 1-0 on Saturday to maintain their four point lead at the top of Premier League 2 Division Two.

Johnson’s men host Newcastle United at Leyland on Monday, March 12 before travelling to Aston Villa on Friday, March 16 for their Premier League Cup last 16 tie.

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