BURTON Albion may have missed out on signing Zeli Ismail this summer but Gary Rowett believes they may have found a replacement within their own ranks.
After being heavily courted by clubs north and south of the border, talented winger Ismail – who lit up the Pirelli Stadium during a loan spell last season – opted to join Notts County on loan until Christmas.
Albion have brought in Lucas Akins, who was rightly awarded the man-of-the-match award for his starring – and scoring – role in Saturday's 4-0 Bass Charity Vase win over Sheffield United.
But after Akins left the field, Brewers academy product Marcus Harness stepped up to the plate and admirably filled his team-mate's boots.
One mesmerising run in the 84th minute, after Albion had been under the cosh for much of the second half, saw Harness leave Blades defenders trailing in his wake before sending the ball across the area for Louis Cutajar to score Albion's fourth goal of the afternoon.
"He's a Zeli sort of player," said Rowett of the talented teenager.
"What we saw, in that little flash to set the goal up, is that he's one of those players who can go past people.
"Whether he can do that over a sustained period, we'll only know when he gets opportunities."
Harness appeared only fleetingly for Albion last term but Rowett is pleased that the Coventry-born 18-year-old seems to have learned from those experiences.
He said: "From last season, the inclusion over three or four games for Marcus showed him what he had to do.
"He went away in the summer with the choice of whether he wants to work on those things and get a bit stronger.
"And Marcus has bulked up – we noticed last week that one or two of the younger ones, like Liam Slade and Matty (Palmer) as well, have grown over the summer.
"There's one thing for sure this year – if we've got a player like that who's come through our system, we want to use him.
"If it means losing one or two games that teaches them valuable lessons and makes them better players, then that's what we'll have to do."