06:00 Tuesday 04 February 2014

Gary Rowett backs Burton Albion loan star Zeli Ismail to be a real handful when the pitches improve

Written byTOM SLOAN

01/02/14 Burton Albion .v. ExeterBurton Albion .v. Exeter....Zeli Ismail 01/02/14 Burton Albion .v. ExeterBurton Albion .v. Exeter....Zeli Ismail

GARY Rowett thinks Zeli Ismail could become a real weapon for Burton Albion when pitches start to improve.

The 20-year-old winger showed flashes of his pace and undoubted ability in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Exeter City at the Pirelli Stadium.

But his influence was limited somewhat by the heavy pitch, a situation likely to repeat itself in the coming weeks.

However, when conditions ease – usually by late February – Rowett reckons Ismail could prove very hot to handle.

“I thought Zeli looked bright in patches on Saturday,” said the Brewers boss.

“It’s hard on a day like that when you can’t get him enough quality ball.

“He’ll suffer in games like that.

“But when the conditions become a little bit better and he gets a bit more space he’ll come into his own.

“He’s a fantastic player and really, really bright and I think he showed that at times.”

Rowett would still like to extend Ismail’s loan from Wolves, which expires after Saturday’s visit to Morecambe.

A deal to take goalkeeper Benji Siegrist on loan from Aston Villa through to the end of the season could also be in the offing.

Meanwhile, Rowett signed duo Gary Alexander and David Gray until the end of the season on deadline day – and is pleased with both signings.

Target man Alexander, 34, made his debut for the Brewers on Saturday, coming on a second half substitute in the 1-1 draw with Exeter.

Gray, 25, a right-back, was signed too late to play, but will be available for the Morecambe game.

Rowett is expecing him to push the outstanding Phil Edwards for a place in the side - when he has reached full match sharpness.

“It was important we try to push on again,” said the manager.

“Both of the lads have not been involved much at their respective clubs, so it’s going to take two or three weeks to get them up to speed where we want them.

“But I think they’ll be important additions and will kick other people on to new levels of performance.

“If they don’t (step up), they’ll come in, simple as that.

“It’s up to everyone who’s got the shirt at the minute to keep hold of it and work very, very hard.”

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