Tom Anderson says that time spent on loan at non-league clubs when he was a young pro gave him the best start to his professional career.
After signing his first deal for Burnley in 2012, Anderson went on nine loans (including Rovers) over the next six years in order to help him get grow as a player and learn about first-team football.
The first of these loans was a spell at Conference side Barrow when he was still a teenager and looking back the centre-back believes was probably one of the best decision he’s made.
“My loan to Barrow was probably the best thing for me if I’m being perfectly honesty because you go from playing youth team football where I was one of the biggest and strongest and then you go into National League,” he said.
“I think in my first ten games there, I broke my nose twice and got a few cuts. It’s a good standard and it was so beneficial for me both on the pitch and off it.”
It was not just the physicality that was new for Anderson, it was also the mental side and the will to win which was an important part of first-team football.
“It teaches you the mentality you need,” he added.
“You go from the youth team where it’s nicey-nicey and you’re playing against people you know every week, and then you’re coming up against men who want to win and they’ll do what it takes to win.
“It was good to get used to a first-team dressing room, which, when you’ve been in youth football, it can take a while to get used to. Everybody’s different - some people can settle in in a few weeks, others take a few season to get used to it.
“Looking back now, I think that was the best thing I did.”