Former England and Blackburn Rovers veteran Stewart Downing believes the Lancashire side will focus on recruiting younger players from now on under Tony Mowbray, with the winger preparing to call time on his playing career.
Downing, 36, was released by Rovers last month, alongside the likes of fellow experienced pros Corry Evans (30), Charlie Mulgrew (35), Lewis Holtby (30), as well as 27-year-old Amari’i Bell who was also a regular first-team player under Mowbray.
This leaves 34-year-old Bradley Johnson, who has a wealth of EFL playing time at Norwich City, Derby County and his current side, as the elder statesman at Ewood Park and the only player over 30 – but Downing believes the experience lost this summer will not be replaced in the next few months.
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In an interview with the Lancashire Telegraph on the need for speed at the second-tier club and their future transfer policy, he said: “I think they need to move quite quick. They’ve left a lot of contract situations until late which is dangerous.
“Blackburn are trying to get a policy, I think, where over 30s won’t be signed and I think they’re trying to go with younger players.
“Harry Pickering is a good example, they will try and make him into a top Championship player and look to sell him on, I think that’s the way they’ll go because it’s a business at the end of the day.”
Tony Mowbray could have millions to spend in the next few months if a deal for their wanted striker Adam Armstrong is completed – with the forward available for a reported £8m as he enters the final year of his contract.
This reduced price could tempt sides to launch a bid for the 24-year-old, which would then allow Blackburn Rovers to recruit a few hidden gems as they prepare for their next campaign in the Championship.
Although building a young, hungry squad will be hugely advantageous to the Lancashire side, they are currently relying on one man in Johnson to nurture those younger players.
Mowbray could be well served in recruiting one experienced player in each area of the pitch to take the burden off the midfielder and increase the number of potential leaders in the dressing room.
Having these younger players may look good on the pitch, but what happens behind closed doors in training and pre-match is just as important and without experienced heads, the second-tier side may struggle to get out of difficult situations next season.
Blackburn endured a tough seven-game winless run earlier this calendar year, so they will know how tough things can be when results aren’t going their way.
A few more experienced players are needed, therefore, but building a young squad will also be an exciting prospect for Rovers supporters. Teenage winger Tyrhys Dolan, who impressed many last season, should be at the centre of this hungry team.