Rovers released their retained list last week, revealing that five players wouldn’t be offered new deals, but what does the future hold?


The Canadian goalkeeper made just 13 appearances across his three years at Rovers, with this season his least productive, playing just three times, all in the cup competitions.

Rovers re-shaped their goalkeeping department in 2017, with Leutwiler, who had previously worked with Tony Mowbray at Middlesbrough, arriving following the departure of Jason Steele as David Raya was installed as No.1.

Leutwiler spent two years as deputy to Raya, and then this season to Christian Walton whose loan has now expired.

Now 29, he signed a one-year extension to his contract last summer, but will move on this year in a bid to find first-team football, having been a regular during his three years with Shrewsbury Town prior to his Ewood switch.

He hasn’t previously ruled out a move back to his home country, but a move to the MLS could be more likely, though his impressive stats during his time with Salop could see an EFL club sign him up.

“For me personally I want to play as No.1 for the national team, but I have to be realistic and accept that I’m not playing at my club and if you’re not playing for your club then it’s very difficult to be the No.1 for your country,” he said.

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Another signed in the summer of 2017, Hart was a deadline day deal and brought in as left back cover for Derrick Williams. However, the arrival of Amari’i Bell in January 2018, the full back having been a target the previous summer, signalled the end of Hart’s first-team chances.

He ended the 2017/18 season at Rochdale, spent the whole of 2018/19 with Rochdale and Southend, and then the final months of 2020 with Shrewsbury Town.

In between those four loan spells he fitted in seven Rovers appearances, but the last of which came in December 2017. He had threatened a breakthrough last pre-season, where he caught the eye before injury struck at Mansfield.

Will likely be on the radar of several League One clubs this summer, after his previous loan spells, and having worked with Blackpool boss Neil Critchley during his time with the Liverpool Academy side, the Seasiders could well emerge as favourites.

Hart said: “I’m concentrating on myself, my agent will do that talking for me, I’m focusing on getting myself in the best shape possible. Mentally I probably need to become stronger, I’ve employed someone to look at that side of the game for me, I feel better for speaking to someone about that. I’m looking forward to what’s coming my way.”


Twice a promotion winner from League One, any team in the third tier could do worse than calls on the services of the 29-year-old tough-tackling midfielder.

Smallwood was Rovers’ only ever-present in their League One promotion campaign of 2017/18, and made 57 consecutive starts in the league before his run ended in October 2018.

Since his red card at Sheffield United in December 2019 he has had to settle for a bit-part role, and in 2019/20 appeared in just two matchday squads, and featured twice in the Carabao Cup.

Turned down a loan move to a League Two in January, preferring to stay and fight for his place at Rovers, and has remained at the club where was a popular figure in the dressing room.

Will be keen to get back playing, after almost 11 months without competitive action, and unlikely to be without a club for long.

Tony Mowbray certainly didn’t underplay his time at the club. “Richie Smallwood has been massive for this football club. You saw Sheffield United spent five or six years in League One, Sunderland and Ipswich stuck in League One, and it was Smallwood, Mulgrew, Graham, Dack, Bennett, who dragged this club out at the first attempt. And that’s not easy to do.

“They deserve massive credit and should be remembered for that.”


Was second-biggest money signing in 2017 when he joined for £500,000 from Reading, another to have previously worked under Mowbray.

Five goals in his first month, including a vital winner at Bradford, saw him start off well, and had looked to have displaced Danny Graham before the experienced frontman won back his place.

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Samuel then was used more out wide, ending the season with just eight goals as his confidence took a hit. Worked hard on his fitness in the summer of 2018, only for that work to be undone by a cruel cruciate knee ligament injury which saw him not feature again until September.

In 2020 he came more in to the first-team picture, and post lockdown started three matches, before being left out of the final two matches. Still only 26, and with time on his side, Blackpool are among the sides to have monitored his availability, and although Mowbray was tight-lipped, was thought to be closing in on a move having started for Rovers in their defeat at Millwall, only to be left out against Reading and Luton.

His ability to play as a centre forward, and wide right in a 4-3-3, will be appealing to clubs.  Lower-end Championship, or promotion-chasing League One clubs, likely to be the most on alert.


The most high-profile departure from the club, Graham will be 35 by the time the new season gets underway, but there were plenty who felt he could still have a done a job for Rovers in 2020/21.

While it would only have been a bit-part role, he had featured in 108 consecutive Rovers matchday squads before being left out against Reading.

An emotional end saw him sign off with an assist in the defeat to Luton, appearance number 600 of his career.

Turned down the possibility of what would have been a lucrative move to Sydney last summer, with a two-year deal on the table, with the striker believing he still has plenty to offer the English game.

Graham feels he has another two or three years left of his career, and will look to land himself a deal in the Championship, or in League One.

Sunderland, his former club, were linked over the weekend, unsurprising given that manager Phil Parkinson had tried to sign Graham when manager of Bolton in 2018.

Had always said he would be happy to see out his career with Rovers, so will understandably take some time to come to terms with that, before deciding on his next move.

Asked what’s next for Danny Graham, he said: “More goals. Hopefully more milestones. I do feel as though I’ve got two to three years left playing at a good level, if my body allows that. I’ve still got that drive to go on and be successful and do well.”