Hayden Carter hopes he’s pushed to the front of the queue to become a fixture in the first-team picture.

Carter is one of several young central defenders at the club vying for position ahead of the 2020/21 season with gaps opening up in Tony Mowbray’s defence.

Tosin Adarabioyo has returned to his parent club Manchester City while Charlie Mulgrew could be free to move on after falling down the pecking order after his return from his Wigan loan spell. Darragh Lenihan and Derrick Williams are senior options at the club, but the latter has struggled with calf injuries in 2020.

That allowed Carter the chance to break in to the first-team, and after starting the final two matches, the 20-year-old hopes to be in front of Scott Wharton, Tyler Magloire and Joe Grayson in the pecking order.

“I feel like all of those players are great defenders, Scott has had three promotions on loan so is obviously doing something right,” he said.

“It’s all healthy competition and will make us all better if we’re fighting for that position.

“The aim is to get in the first-team next season.”

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Rovers have four young central defenders competing for a spot in Tony Mowbray’s first-team spot, but who will come out on top?

SCOTT WHARTON

The Salesbury-born centre half is the most experienced of the quartet having played more than 100 games across his five separate loan spells, as well as a handful of appearances for Rovers.

Burst on to the scene in 2016, making his Championship debut against Burton Albion. However, has played just three times since Tony Mowbray took charge in February 2017 and has since been loaned to Cambridge United, Lincoln City twice, Bury and Northampton. In that time he’s clocked up invaluable experience in League Two, winning three promotions, and become used to the physicality of life in the EFL.

At 22 is approaching a pivotal stage of his career and is keen to challenge for a spot in the Rovers first-team set-up, despite Northampton being keen on re-signing him on loan.

Being left-footed would provide good balance, but Mowbray will want to see whether he has the quality on the ball to slip seamlessly in to the team, and be physically ready for the Championship.

TYLER MAGLOIRE

Got his chance during the defensive crisis of March 2019, starting games against Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday.

Didn’t have the 2019/20 campaign he would have hoped for after being loaned out to Rochdale, making just five appearances in an injury-hit campaign, including a spell at right back, before returning to Rovers in January.

Made his third appearance in a matchday squad against Reading, and will be keen to push on in pre-season to become part of the plans once again.

Has blistering pace, and not one to shy away from a battle, will likely need to convince Mowbray about his aerial ability if he’s to get another chance.

Been at the club since the age of nine, and under contract for another two years, will be keen to gain more experience under his belt, and could well be the most likely to be loaned out in order to do so.

This Is Lancashire:

JOE GRAYSON

Grayson has had to battle back from a similarly injury-hit 2019/20 after being ruled out of the season in October with a torn hamstring which required surgery. That ruled out the prospect of him leaving in loan in January as he had done in 2019, joining Grimsby in League Two and playing eight times, scoring twice.

Like Magloire, is 21, but is now in to the final year of his contract, and has just one Carabao Cup appearance to his name.

Nicknamed ‘mini Mulgrew’ because of the quality of his left foot and set piece delivery, Grayson was a late arrival to the central defensive position and Mowbray will likely be keen to see him hone those skills out on loan again to iron out question marks over his pace and physicality.

As well as his quality in playing out from the back, has assumed leadership of the Under-23s and has impressed Mowbray with his fleeting involvement so far.

HAYDEN CARTER

Being fit, and around the first-team picture, gave him the opportunity to travel with the squad to Charlton in February and was the start of 11 appearances in a matchday squad, including two 90 minutes in the final two matches.

Mowbray was fulsome in his praise of his debut, but will have to overcome the disappointment of scoring an own goal in defeat to Luton.

Physically strong, did struggle at times when coming up against genuine pace against Luton, but was comfortable on the ball in both matches which will have been pleasing the manager.

Hasn’t had the build-up of many Academy graduates, but has quietly crept in to the first-team picture and will hope to have jumped to the front of the queue.

Will need to convince Mowbray that he’s ready to feature straight away as the only one of the quartet not to have been loaned out.