Billy Barr feels his Rovers Under-23s squad are putting themselves in a good position for January loan moves after a strong start to season.

Rovers were denied top spot in Premier League 2 by a late Tyler Onyango equaliser as Everton snatched a 1-1 draw at Leyland on Friday night.

Brad Lyons’ first half goal looked to have sent Barr’s side top, but despite remaining third in the standings after the draw, they have lost just one of their opening eight matches.

Captain Joe Grayson has built up his fitness over the last six weeks following a difficult year with injuries, and is the most likely to be considered for a January move, though midfielder Lyons could also attract interest.

Tyler Magloire and Luke Brennan signed for Hartlepool and AFC Fylde respectively within the last month, but Barr says the performances of others won’t have gone unnoticed.

“They were all desperate to go top of the league, I’m more than happy with the performance overall.

“The January window is just around the corner and they’re putting themselves in a good position for potential loans which was mentioned before the game.

“Results have to (matter) to the group, development means more to me, but one defeat, who’d have thought that after eight games.

“They’re doing something right as a group, and they have spoken about togetherness, shape, desire to do well for each other, we’re on an upward climb at the moment and we have to stay there.

“We’ll try and keep them in that mindset.”

Rovers bounced back from a 6-0 humbling at the hands of Arsenal before the international break with four points from a possible six against Brighton and Everton.

Barr feels their work since the break has been rewarded and has been pleased with the response to the Gunners defeat.

“At 1-0 there’s always an opportunity for the opposition, but I’m gutted for them because I thought we were really good first half, really good with the ball,” he explained.

“I challenged the group after the Arsenal game to bounce back and we got that (at Brighton) and we got the reaction again (against Everton).

“There were signs that we didn’t see against Arsenal, at the end of the game, the last corner, I could see everyone blowing, and I didn’t think we had that against Arsenal.

“It’s no coincidence that when you end up working like that you end up getting more rewards.

“I’m gutted for them really. A little lack of communication at the back and then we wobbled a bit, giving them a few opportunities, but then we had some good chances ourselves.

“It’s frustrating, the group are frustrated massively, they see it as two points dropped but I saw look at the positives and it’s a point against Everton, with the resources they have.

“We’ll take it on the chin and move on.”

Rovers are next in action against Tottenham on Monday, with just three more games to go before the end of 2020.

With the Premier League Cup and Premier League International Cup having been postponed this season, and the Lancashire Senior Cup also not taking place, there have been gaps in the schedule for the Rovers youngsters.

Behind closed doors matches will be arranged so that all the members of the squad can get game-time, with Harry Chapman having started the last two due to being short of match minutes at first-team level.

Barr has gone with a back three in each of the last two games, and added: “It’s a new shape to us, I think we look far more comfortable with three proper centre halves than two centre halves and one sitting midfielder as a centre half.

“It seems to suit us, but more learning for us to do.

“We can’t afford both midfielders to go (forward) otherwise the middle of the pitch is wide open.

“Jordan Eastham did fantastic for Brad’s goal, comes and takes the ball on the edge of the box and quick distribution. Brad runs 70 seconds to get the finish, Chappy jinks past his man and crosses for Brad to finish, a really good goal.

“Some of the football in the first half was really good and we need to build on that now.”