Rovers defender Wharton happy to let his football do the talking

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Rovers defender Scott Wharton
Rovers defender Scott Wharton

Scott Wharton hopes his football does the talking as he looks to continue his run in the Rovers side.

Wharton didn’t miss a match after making a seamless return to action following 11 months on the sidelines with a ruptured Achilles injury.

The 24-year-old then started every game from November to the end of the season, a fine personal one for the defender, even if Rovers fell short of achieving their top six aim.

With the club’s most experienced player in Bradley Johnson, as well as captain Darragh Lenihan, moving on, there will be something of a leadership void that Rovers will need to fill.

Lewis Travis is the man expected to take over the captaincy, having done so in Lenihan’s absence previously, while Daniel Ayala captained Middlesbrough to promotion and is another option.

That isn’t something that homegrown defender Wharton is thinking about, even though former boss Tony Mowbray felt he had the ability to develop his leadership qualities.

Wharton says he would prefer to lead with his performances, rather than being a vocal type on the pitch, and will look to continue his upward trajectory since his return from injury.

Asked whether he saw himself now as a senior figure in the side, Wharton said: “Potentially, but I’d like to think that my football does the talking.

“If I’m performing well then I feel I can do alright.

“Once you feel comfy and settled that’s when you take your foot off the gas.

“There’s a squad of players for a reason, everyone is fighting and wanting to be in the team and there’s only 11 that can be picked.”

Wharton was Rovers’ loan ranger during much of Mowbray’s time in charge.

He hadn’t played a senior game for Rovers from November 2018 to August 2020, taking in loan spells at Cambridge United, Bury, Northampton Town and two at Lincoln City.

Wharton was a serial promotion winner, but knew coming back from his time with the Cobblers, having won the League Two play-off final in 2020, that he had to take his opportunity at Rovers when it came.

Injuries to Daniel Ayala and Derrick Williams opened the door for Wharton who played eight times in times in the first half of the 2020/21 campaign before injury struck at Brentford on December 5.

That injury kept him out for 11 months, though his return to the Rovers starting line-up couldn’t have been any better.

That coincided with an upturn of form that took Rovers into the automatic promotion places, with his displays earning him rave reviews and a spot in the team for the remainder of the season.

He is now closing in on 50 appearances for the club, and tied to a long-term contract, is expected to stay as a fixture in the side.

Rovers are using the loan market more and more to get experience for their prospects, but that wasn’t always the case, with Wharton something of an exception, with that path not taken by Ryan Nyambe, John Buckley or Lewis Travis.

Reflecting on those experiences, Wharton said: “Before my injury I’d been out on loan loads of times and finally got a chance and then got injured.

“There were times when I did struggle. The second loan at Lincoln, while they did get promotion and I played a few games, I found it hard because I wasn’t playing and that’s why I got the loan move to Bury.

“In those seven loans I felt I’d done well and then to be out for 11 months, I knew that I’d get a chance when I was back fit and that I had to take it.

“There are ups and downs, more downs than ups, but it’s about how you respond and I wouldn’t change a thing in my career so far.

“I’m hoping that it continues.”

Wharton was joined in Portugal for Rovers’ week-long training camp by brother Adam.

The 18-year-old midfielder signed his first professional contract with Rovers earlier this year and is making excellent strides at the club, with the hope of emulating the success of older brother Scott.

The pair have played alongside each other for Rovers’ Under-23s side already, during Scott’s rehabilitation period, and it might not be long in the waiting until both are on the pitch at the same time for the first-team.

“All we talk about is football, football, football. I’m sure some people in my family get a bit annoyed but that’s our life,” Wharton explained.

“I’m proud to be playing for my local team and doing well.”

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