The appointment of Billy Barr as Under-23s boss has meant for a ‘smooth transition’, according to first-team manager Tony Mowbray.

Barr was promoted from his previous role in charge of the Under-18s after Damien Johnson became part of the first-team coaching set-up in the summer.

Johnson had held the role of Under-23s manager for the last four years, guiding the club to the Premier League 2 title in 2017/18.

He worked closely with Mowbray throughout his tenure and that was enough to convince the boss to hand the Northern Irishman a job in a newly-created technical coach role.

Barr arrived at Rovers in December 2014 as lead youth development phase coach, before stepping up to take charge of the Under-18s, with this his second promotion.

With the scholars having worked at the Academy centre, rather than the Senior training centre, Mowbray’s day-to-day dealings with Barr prior to his appointment have been limited.

But he’s been impressed what he’s seen from Barr in his early weeks in charge, having got his first win since taking over against Brighton last Monday.

“I didn’t really work with Billy because he’s been down the hill at the Academy, a totally different site, with the Under-18s,” Mowbray said of Barr, who represented Halifax Town, Crewe Alexandra and Carlisle United in his playing career.

“Now he’s working with us every day and we will develop a relationship.

“He’s very respectful, asking a lot of questions about players, as you would expect.

“I like his honesty, his rawness, he’s an experienced guy and I think we’ll be fine.

“They had a good result against Brighton the other day and he understands how we want to play as a club.

“I don’t say they have to play a back four, a back three, he can pick his formation.

“As long as his structure and principles of play are the same as us then I’m relaxed with how he wants to play.

“He’s relaxed if I say this player or that player needs game-time, so we’re working fine at the moment.

“I don’t foresee any problems. He knows our club, knows the structure of how it works and has the contacts with the Under-18s and knows which players to bring up when he needs to.

“It’s been a smooth transition.”

Mowbray took charge in February 2017 and has been a regular at Under-23s matches ever since, taking a keen interest in the development of the club’s young players.

Over that time he has seen the likes of Lewis Travis, John Buckley, Joe Rankin-Costello and Dan Butterworth, among others, become part of the first-team squad, with Lewis Hardcastle and Willem Tomlinson among those to have moved on.

Goalkeeper Andrew Fisher and defenders Matty Platt, Scott Wharton and Tyler Magloire are all out on loan, while striker Joe Nuttall was sold to Blackpool.

And that has made for a younger, and less experienced, Under-23s side than Rovers have fielded in recent years.

In the top division of Academy football, Mowbray admits it could well be a tough season for Barr and his youngsters, but he sees no shortage of talent in the group.

“I’ve told him that it’s a tough season for him,” Mowbray added.

“There are a lot of players that have changed during the course of my tenure.

“Tomlinson and Hardcastle were playing central midfield, Travis was in there, the structure of the team has changed a lot.

“You have Grayson, Platt, Doyle, but how many years can you play Under-23s football for?

“They want to play men’s football and go out on loan and that means the team is looking really young.

“I’ve told that they might get beaten against some top teams but we’re now looking for the next batch of players to come through.

“We’ve talked about players like Jack Vale and looking for that next batch, he won’t get them all through but if some can break through in to the first-team then that’s job done.”