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FULHAM are leading the race to sign Southend United’s highly rated youngster Lyle Della-Verde.

The 16-year-old, who can play on the left flank or up front, has shone regularly for Blues’ youth side in the past couple of seasons.

And the Cottagers are currently leading the race to secure his signature, despite there also being interest from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Della-Verde caught the eye during Ricky Duncan team’s surge to the fifth round of the FA Youth Cup last term and such fine form saw him selected on the substitutes bench for Paul Sturrock’s first team three times.

The youngster joined Blues three years ago from Metropolitan Essex outfit Ryan and scored against both Wolves and Norwich City in the recent Cars4All Trophy at Roots Hall.

Della-Verde has also already appeared for the club’s reserve team and has the promise of a professional contract at Southend.

However, he now looks set to depart Roots Hall and will follow in the foot-steps of Medi Abalimba, Femi Orenuga, Dominic Iorfa and Michael Ngoo who also left Blues as youth team players to join top clubs.