GARY Rowett says Burton Albion are keen to bring Zeli Ismail back to the club, but accepts he might have to bide his time for the talented winger.
While on loan from parent club Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ismail breathed fresh life into the second half of the Brewers’ League Two campaign last season with a string of eye-catching performances.
He is in the final year of his contract at Molineux, and so will be more eager than ever to prove he has a future with Kenny Jackett’s side.
However, Ismail found himself behind the likes of ex-Rams winger Michael Jacobs and James Henry last season, when his parent club were in League One.
Now back in the Championship after promotion in May, Wolves have brought in Rajiv van La Parra’s from Heerenveen, adding further competition for the wide areas and increasing the likliehood of Ismail going out on loan again.
“We’ve made it clear we are interested,” said Rowett.
“We spoke to Wolves at the end of the season, as Zeli had done really well for us and really enjoyed his time here.
“They’re aware that we have been good for each other.
“The issue is that they’ll always want to get him back and see how he’s improved and if they want to send him out again.
“He’s certainly a player we’d love to have back, but I’m sure after some of his performances for us, we won’t be the only club interested.”
Indeed, Notts County have been strongly linked with the 20-year-old and are expected to make a bid this month.
Should Wolves look to loan Ismail out again, Albion would be in a strong position given the mutual respect between the club and the player.
On leaving Burton, Ismail said on his Twitter page: “Massive thank you to Burton Albion for giving me the chance to play and express myself – I’ve learnt a lot about the game and myself.
“Also big thank you to the players, staff and the fans, who made me feel really welcome.”
Rowett says he would love to see Ismail forge a Championship career in Wolverhampton, and admits the player may not regard another stint in League Two as his preferred option.
“He’s a player with huge potential, and I’m sure Wolves will want to see if that potential has been realised yet,” said the Pirelli chief.
“Every player wants to play as high as they can, so a young player like Zeli might not necessarily want to come back to League Two.
“He will want to go back and fight for his place at Wolves, and I hope he goes back and does well and gets into the team, because he’s a great lad.
“Three to four weeks into pre-season players start to think maybe they’re not going to get as many games and look at other options.
“I don’t think there’ll be many loan deals done before pre-season.”