Six players finished their season away from Ewood Park on loan, but how have they fared and what lies in store for each of them next season? Rovers reporter RICH SHARPE casts his eyes over the loan rangers...

SCOTT WHARTON

A unique year for the Rovers defender whose two loan clubs, Lincoln and Bury, were both promoted from League Two.

The 21-year-old joined Lincoln City in July, with his signing announced after the pre-season friendly against Rovers.

Wharton signed a long-term deal at Ewood before his departure, and re-joined the Imps where finished the 2017/18 season, having been with Cambridge United in the fourth tier in 2016/17.

The arrival of the experienced Jason Shackell however saw him make just five league starts, and having been a peripheral figure, was recalled in January and subsequently joined Bury.

Scored in back-to-back games in March and started 15 times for the Shakers.

Will try and force his way in to Tony Mowbray’s plans this summer, but that may well be difficult given the expected defensive arrivals. Any loan move next year would require a step up to League One.

MATTY PLATT

His immediate future was resolved last week when he agreed a new one-year deal, having previously been out of contract this summer.

The 21-year-old failed to make a single league appearance for Accrington Stanley in the first half of the season, and after returning to feature for Rovers Under-23s in January, joined National League North side Southport.

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Has three Rovers appearances to his name, all in the Checkatrade Trophy, but is now one of a clutch of young centre halves coming through.

Unlikely to break in to the first team group next season, and his most likely route is another loan move to get his career up and running, or possibly become a mainstay of the Under-23s.

JOE GRAYSON

Spent the second half of the season at Grimsby and finished in fine goalscoring form, with two goals in his last three appearances for the Mariners.

Made his Rovers debut in the Carabao Cup win over Lincoln in August but was keen to further his development out loan.

Had a mixed spell at Blundell Park, making six starts and two substitute appearances, and his departure allowed Tyler Magloire to steal a march on him, making his first team debut in March.

The 20-year-old agreed a long-term deal in November and is highly-rated by Tony Mowbray. His style makes the comparisons to Charlie Mulgrew very easy, but is still learning his position, and at 20, has time on his side, so will need to decide what that development is best served in the Under-23s or out on loan again.

PAUL DOWNING

The most experienced of those out on loan, and his case is vastly different. Allowed to get more game-time by Mowbray in January having made just three Championship appearances,

His departure coincided with a defensive injury crisis, but the boss had no regrets given the professionalism of the 27-year-old while out of the team.

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Played 21 times for Doncaster, helping them in to the League One play-offs, and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a permanent switch to the Keepmoat.

Rovers do have an option in his contract, which is up this year, and is expected to seek pastures new.

SAM HART

Another Rovers player to spend time with two sides, starting at Rochdale and finishing with Southend.

The 22-year-old had a more fruitful stay with the Shrimpers, playing 18 times and helping them avoid relegation, and received good reviews.

Agreed a one-year deal at Rovers earlier this year, and Mowbray has hinted he will be given a chance to stake his claim in pre-season, but having attracted interest last summer, he may want to take advantage of that having played for the club since December 2017.

BRAD LYONS

Was in excellent form for Rovers Under-23s in January before moving to St Mirren after his loan move from Coleraine was made permanent.

The 21-year-old was sent off on his Buddies debut, only for that to be rescinded. The Northern Irishman scored his first senior goal in the win over Dundee and will stay with St Mirren until after the two-legged relegation match against Hamilton.

New to full-time football, Rovers will be keen to see Lyons continue his development and he may well benefit most from a full season in the Under-23s set-up, given his experiences in men’s football at both Coleraine and St Mirren.