Zeli Ismail and Jonathan Flatt have both insisted they will not be getting carried away by the signing of new professional contracts – citing much work to be done over the next two-and-a-half years.
Winger Ismail has signed his second professional contract and goalkeeper Flatt his first as the pair who have both come through the club’s Academy secure their futures at Molineux until the summer of 2015.
With Ismail having been at Wolves since he was ten, and Flatt since he was eight, this latest development is viewed by Academy manager Kevin Thelwell as the latest step on a long journey towards one day challenging for the first team.
“The Under-21 team have been doing very well this season and the process is started whereby the players making progress in that group are tied down to the football club,” says Thelwell.
“Jon Flatt has done very well for the Under-18s this season and Zeli for the Under-21s and we see this as the next step in their progress.
“These new contracts ensure they have got a secure contract to build on and that’s what it is – something to build on following the good work they have done so far.
“That certainly doesn’t mean that the journey is over, and as we always say, they are still very much at the start of things as opposed to the end.
“We’re seeing it now that the average age of a debut now is around 21 and a half years of age.
“A lot of our boys are a long way from that and it’s not the case now that you get a lot of debuts at 17 or 18.
“You might get the odd one but most are now breaking through around the 20, 21 age and these contracts are another block in helping them make the progress we hope they are going to make.”
Ismail has made a brief debut in the Capital One Cup tie at Chelsea and is now focused on impressing at reserve team level as he continues his development.
“I’m pleased to have signed the contract,” he says.
“The discussions had been going on for a while but I’ve been here since I was 11 and I really enjoy it here.
“I’m settled, I get on with the other players and the manager is cool.
“Now I’ve signed the contract I can just concentrate on my football and working as hard as I can.
“We’ve had a decent season with the reserves so far but shouldn’t have lost to Fulham on Monday.
“Getting a few minutes at Chelsea in the cup gave me a boost and I think I’m 19 next month at the right age to push on.
“I’ve just got to get my head down and work hard and hopefully it will all pay off.”
Flatt meanwhile faces a good old battle to follow in the footsteps of some of the Academy’s greatest ‘exports’ of the last decade in terms of the trio of goalkeepers Matt Murray, Wayne Hennessey and Carl Ikeme.
“I’m really happy to have signed the contract but I’ve got to push on now and look forward,” he says.
“It’s my 11th year here at Wolves now and it feels like all the hard work I have done coming through is starting to pay off.
“But I know there is still a lot more hard work to be done to try and get to the first team which is where every player wants to be.
“Now I’ve got a professional contract the aim is to try and get into the reserves and then one day, if a first team opportunity arises, I will be ready for it.
“I’m not sure there is a club around that have brought through better goalkeepers than Wolves have in the past.
“It is certainly something to live up to!
“Matt was the keeper I always watched growing up and it’s been great to see Carl and Wayne playing as well.
“All three are brilliant keepers and they have helped me a lot and I think it is down to the quality of the coaching which we have here.”