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Wolves sign up Zeli Ismail and Liam McAlinden

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Wolves today announced golden prospect Zeli Ismail has signed his first professional contract to tie him to the club to 2013.

Wolves today announced golden prospect Zeli Ismail has signed his first professional contract to tie him to the club to 2013.

Ismail and fellow first-year scholar Liam McAlinden penned three-year deals as they reached their 17th birthdays.

Another prospect, Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who turns 18 tomorrow, has signed terms to 2012.

But it's the announcement that right-winger Ismail is under lock and key that will set supporters' tongues wagging.

Having burst onto the national scene at just 14 — at the prestigious Milk Cup in Northern Ireland for England Under-16s — he was touted as one of the country's top talents and was said to be attracting admiring glances from Chelsea and Manchester City.

After a couple of brief reserve team appearances, his stunning progress was curtailed with two knee injuries last season which required surgery.

But Wolves, who have educated Ismail for the last two years after taking him out of school, have been quietly planning his long-term future — well before his hat-trick in the academy's recent 4-0 win over Manchester United.

Stafford-born McAlinden has also made significant strides to the extent where he's now seen in the same light as Ismail.

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"We're delighted to have secured the long term futures of Zeli and Liam," said chief executive Jez Moxey. "They have a long way to go, but they now have the security to improve and challenge for the first team."

Ismail, who has been with the club since he was 10, recently missed out on an Under-18 call-up due to injury, while McAlinden, who joined at eight, has played for Northern Ireland Under-19s.

"Zeli's an exciting player who can beat players and cross with quality as well as score goals," said academy manager Kevin Thelwell.

"Liam was converted from a left-back, has a terrific left foot and has scored plenty of goals."

Ismail — spotted by academy scout Bob Bennett playing Sunday League — said: "It's been all about trying to get that first professional contract. It's also important we get the chance to train sometimes with the first team."

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