GARY Rowett says the arrival of Zeli Ismail on loan from Wolves for the rest of the season shows the growing reputation of Burton Albion as a place for youngsters to flourish.
The Brewers sealed a loan extension for the 20-year-old winger yesterday, three days after his superb goal gave them a vital 1-0 win at Morecambe.
Rowett moved fast to secure the promising wide-man – and says it is a coup for the club.
“Our relationship with other clubs is bearing fruit,” said Albion boss Rowett.
“We accept our position in the league for now in terms of us being in League Two.
“But we’re trying to use what we’ve got as a club on the up to attract and develop players.
“We’ve already sold one of our young players (Regan Upton) to Wolves and they recognise what we’re trying to do and the environment we’ve created.”
Ismail scored one and made three in five appearances during his first month at the Pirelli Stadium.
As Rowett promised, he has got the fans on the edge of their seats with his pacy, direct style.
This has come despite January’s pitches resembling a ploughed field at times.
But the League Two experience, Rowett believes, could be massively beneficial to a player aiming for the top.
“It’s very difficult to develop players on the kinds of pitches we’re playing on at the moment,” said the Brewers chief.
“But it’s a learning experience and he’s getting game knowledge and learning what it’s like to earn a living in League Two.
“I don’t want to labour the point, but us training at St George’s helps too.
“We’ve had James Collins from Villa, who was a fantastic loan signing, and Sam Winnall from Wolves, who has gone on to do really well, and now Zeli Ismail.
“There’s Derby, too, who we’ve had the benefit of having an excellent relationship with.”
Rowett also knows that Burton being in the running for promotion helps attract the talent.
“Also, possibly the biggest thing for me is we’re having sustained success, this season and last,” said the manager. “That helps people see we’re doing things properly – if we were sat bottom of the league, maybe one or two might look at that.”
Ismail himself is looking forward to helping Albion seal a place in the League Two top seven.
“It’s great to be able to extend my loan spell until the end of the season,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed my football since I’ve been here and all the lads and staff have made me feel really welcome.
“To get the winner on Saturday was brilliant and the fans have given me a lot of confidence.
“We’ve now got to concentrate on the final third of the season, win as many games as possible and finish as high as we can.”