Rovers boss Darren Moore has challenged the Development players at the club to show they are ready for first-team football - with Max Watters the latest to be handed his EFL debut.
The young forward, who made his senior debut against Manchester United U21 in the Leasing.com Trophy, came off the bench against MK Dons on Saturday.
Moore said: “Max has the physicality and speed, he’s had a taste now and hopefully he goes home and believes he can compete at this level as there will be more opportunities for him to come.
“He is the latest of several young players that supporters are seeing for the first time this season - the development programme demands more them this season to get to the levels expected.”
Danny Amos, Will Longbottom, Shane Blaney and AJ Greaves have all joined Watters in stepping up from the U23 side to the first-team this season
And Moore reckons that structural changes to the daily routine of the U23 squad - which are managed by Gary McSheffrey but now come under the club’s Academy system - are beginning to pay dividends.
He added: “I’ve had no hesitation playing them when needed in the first-team - there is one thing having them there, but it’s the next step trusting them to go in and do a job.
“There are games this season where they have had to step in, there are games coming up where they are going to have to step in too.
“That is what the development squad is. When you come out of the Academy into that squad it’s probably the harshest group in the club, they’ve got to perform at a level to suggest they are equal or better than what is in the first-team.
“They also have to show progression because coming behind them is the U18s, and they can’t stop in the way of the U18s coming through. They have got to hit the ground running and get up to speed quickly, they are expected to perform at a good level. They are a a real hard-working group.”
Rovers’s U23 side take on Walsall in a Central League fixture at Cantley Park this Tuesday (1pm KO). Entrance for supporters is free.