Rovers’ plans for next season have taken a step forward with the club announcing they will play six pre-season friendlies.

Tony Mowbray’s squad will return from their close season break at the end of June and will once again head out to Austria for a week-long training camp.

They will then come back for six friendlies in the lead up to the season getting underway on August 4, four of which have been confirmed.

All four are away from home, and it appears unlikely that any of Rovers’ close season games will take place at Ewood Park. As in 2017, Rovers begin their pre-season campaign at Barrow before travelling to Rochdale, Bury and Blackpool.

Mowbray met with all of his squad earlier this week before they were handed their individual training programmes for the next seven weeks.

The club are yet to announce their retained list, which is now expected early next week. However, with the deals of five first team players not expiring until the end of next month, the situation with a number of those players remains fluid.

Rovers have 12-month options in the deals of Jayson Leutwiler, Paul Downing and Craig Conway, while Mowbray has already said that Rovers haven’t closed the door on an extended stay for Jack Rodwell.

Ben Gladwin is the other player out of contract, with Charlie Albinson, Matty Platt, Jack Doyle and Lewis Mansell from the Under-23s all seeing their deals expire.

Downing’s case is also complicated by the fact he is currently out on loan at Doncaster Rovers.

The 27-year-old joined the Keepmoat club in January and has started 17 times helping them to the League One play-offs.

He is expected to line up for Grant McCann’s side when they host Charlton Athletic on Sunday (12.15pm) before the second leg at The Valley on Friday, May 17.

Rovers will return to pre-season training in the final week of June and head to the Bad Tatzmannsdorf area, but no games have been arranged.

“After the experience in Austria last year, the hotel and the environment, was exceptional,” the Rovers boss said.

“Austria will be to work hard, get fit, put in the work and get the balance right between the physical stuff that needs to be done and the game preparation, how we’re going to set up and the responsibilities.”

The friendlies start with a trip to National League side Barrow on July 6, before games at Rochdale (July 14), Bury (July 24) and Blackpool (July 27) with two more games to be arranged.

The club say those will be arranged in due course, as will ticket information for each respective fixture.