Blackburn youngster Lewis Hardcastle has agreed professional terms at Blackburn Rovers. The promising midfielder has put pen-to-paper on a two-and-a-half year deal until the summer of 2018. He has spent this season on loan at Salford City FC playing prominently in the FA Cup and impressing fans on social media.
Hardcastle now joins an ever-growing list of youthful talents in the first team squad. Players like Connor Mahoney, Willem Tomlinson and Ryan Nyambe have been edging for first team positions over the last couple of seasons and Hardcastle's call up to the first team offers Paul Lambert some new options.
He can play through the centre of midfield and also in defence, while his versatility at such a young age has led to a number of comparisons to former Rover Phil Jones.
Blackburn's next trip takes them to Reading on Sunday. After a few poor displays against Rotherham and Nottingham Forest, Lambert's team will look forward to putting things right. The game is a really good opportunity for Rovers, especially with Reading being in the same area of the league table as Blackburn.
Reading lost 2-1 to Hull in their last match, but did however score an unbelievable goal, tapped in by former Blackburn striker Nick Blackman.
Nick Blackman will be a major threat for Reading at the weekend, and Paul Lambert's defence need to keep up their impeccable record to keep out the in form man. Grant Hanley and Shane Duffy, along with keeper Jason Steele have lead Blackburn to an increasing amount of clean sheets this season, having managed 8.
Under Gary Bowyer, Blackburn only managed 10 clean sheets in the whole of the season last year, and Paul Lambert has hailed his young defensive pair in recent matches.
Players such as Lewis Hardcastle and Connor Mahoney will look to impress Paul Lambert in training with the hope of making a push for the starting eleven over Christmas. The festive period provides a lot of fixtures, which puts a strain on small squads like Rovers. Therefore the youngsters could be called up to the team soon.