Tony Mowbray says Rovers have studied Scott Wharton closely during his loan spell at Northampton Town as the central defender bids for promotion number three from League Two tonight.

Wharton has been named in the Cobblers side for the Wembley date with Exeter City (7.30pm) as he looks to win a third promotion in 12 months from the fourth tier, after being part of the Lincoln City and Bury squads who achieved it last term.

However, the Salesbury born defender has made just  two appearances for Rovers under Mowbray and has since had five separate loan moves, despite signing contract extensions in each of the last two years.

Mowbray felt the 22-year-old needed to improve his physicality to crack it in the Championship, with Wharton among a host of young central defenders coming through at the club.

Wharton will make appearance number 43 of what has been an impressive season for the defender who thought it vital to enjoy regular game-time over the course of a campaign.

Rovers will have a vacancy in that position in the summer when Tosin Adarabioyo returns to parent club Manchester City at the end of his loan spell, while Derrick Williams has had an injury hit campaign, and Charlie Mulgrew is expected to move on.

Wharton will hope to be in that mix, with Rovers having watched him closely this season.

“Sometimes young players go out on loan and don’t get enough game-time, it can be difficult for managers to trust young players, especially when you have an ambition of being near the top of the table,” Mowbray said.

“It’s been good, they obviously trust him, he’s done a sterling job and he’s been a part of a successful team.

“Let’s wait and see. Every year I’ve been here Scott has come back in pre-season and I’ve just felt he’s had to develop his upper body and become stronger for this league.

“We have got reports on every game, we look at his footage, he’s done well, playing on the left side of a back three for them. He’s doing fine.

“I wish him well.

“We have our thoughts that we have to focus on, but we’ll have an eye on that game tonight of course and we wish him well.

“We’ll then see how he comes back in pre-season, let’s  see what the competition is like. We have got Adarabioyo here at the moment, he’s a loan player, and it’s very much at the forefront of our minds about the central defensive position and there has to be competition.

“Let’s see what the competition is between the players we’ve got.”