Highly rated prospect Ash Phillips will be secured to a professional contract at Rovers from July 1 – amid interest from Premier League clubs.
Phillips is part of the Rovers squad that has travelled to Portugal for a week-long training camp, allowing Jon Dahl Tomasson to cast an eye over his inherited players, including those pushing for first-team involvement.
They will include England youth international Phillips who has played only a handful of games at Under-23s but seemingly destined for a bright future, and having only just turned 17 yesterday.
Despite moving into the second year of his scholarship, Phillips will sign professional terms with Rovers on July 1, giving the club an increased level of security as big clubs circle.
Tottenham Hotspur are known to hold a strong interest in the central defender who catches the eye with his incredible physical attributes and calmness on the ball.
Phillips’ professional deal is understood to be for at least three years, in which time the expectation will be that he becomes a regular in the first-team.
The professional deal was agreed when Phillips signed his scholarship last summer, but comes into effect from July 1.
It was a big coup for Rovers amid the increasing interest in the England youth international who is thought of as one of the best central defenders in the country at his age.
He spent time away with England Under-17s in the summer, and was a regular in the Young Lions set-up throughout 2021/22, featuring in the Syrenka Cup in September.
By then he had already been part of the travelling party to a first-team matchday squad, while he went one step further with a place on the bench for the FA Cup tie at Wigan Athletic in January.
However, he has still only made 12 Premier League 2 appearances for the Under-23s, and only 11 for the Under-18s given the speed of his progression.
Mike Sheron, who was the Under-18s manager who gave 15-year-old Phillips an opportunity in that age group, knows his qualities.
The Under-23s boss said: “Every time you give him a challenge he seems to roll his sleeves up and says ‘give me more’ and that’s what you want to see.
“A lot of coaches have spent a lot of time with him.
“When he came into the team just after Christmas (2020) in the Under-18s we didn’t have to do a lot of coaching with him. He’s full of enthusiasm, he wants to do well, you just want to give him that vehicle to go forward.
“He’s a young lad who wants to get better every time he trains, wants to engage, ask questions and he wants to win, and they’re great attributes to go alongside his physicality and his technical ability.”
Manchester United and Chelsea have been linked with a move for Phillips, who has been joined by Rovers team-mate Jake Batty in the England set-up.
However, it is understood to be Tottenham who have the strongest interest.
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