BLACKPOOL have spoken to a number of clubs about the future of Tom Ince.
The Seasiders star man is believed to be a target for a host of Premier League clubs during next month’s transfer window.
Liverpool appear to be leading the way in the race for the 20-year-old, who last night received a one-match international ban following the controversial England Under-21 match in Serbia in October.
A bid of around £7m could be enough to prise the winger away from Bloomfield Road, and although Pool manager Michael Appleton said no bids have been received, he confirmed there have been talks.
Appleton said: “There have been no bids as far as I’m aware. I think there have been conversations with a couple of clubs and the chairman, but nothing concrete.
“No-one has come in yet and set the marker in terms of a price.”
Ince has been in red-hot form again this season and is one of the Championship’s leading scorers with 13.
He has been touted for a call-up to England’s senior side, though Ince must sit out the next U-21 fixture following the fallout from the controversial Euro 2013 play-off in Krusevac, which ended in ugly scenes amid allegations of racial abuse.
Ince was one of six suspended by UEFA – the other England player is Spurs’ Steven Caulker, who has received a two-game ban. Serbia have been ordered to play their next U21 match behind closed doors.
Ince is set to face Blackburn in tomorrow’s Lancashire derby at Bloomfield Road and Appleton is delighted at how well his star man has played despite all the speculation over his future.
The manager added: “To be fair to Tom, he’s put it all to one side. He’s just got on with his game and not let it effect him.
“He just has to keep on playing well for Blackpool.
“If he’s got anything about him, he’ll keep playing well and scoring for us.
“It’s only fair for him and everyone else that he ignores the speculation.
“If the worst did happen in January, and we did lose Tom, then we have to make sure we have replacements ready.
“They will have to fill some very big shoes.”
Tomorrow’s derby is set to be played out in front of a sell-out crowd.
Pool will be without Stephen Crainey who is suspended after collecting five bookings, but welcome back Chris Basham and Gary Taylor-Fletcher after suspension and injury respectively.
The Seasiders are yet to win a home game under their new manager but Appleton thinks tomorrow will be the perfect time to start.
“It’s only a matter of time before our home form comes good,” he said.
“It’s certainly not anything to do with the way we are playing.
“If the players give a decent performance on Saturday, the result will follow.
“Obviously against one of our local rivals, this would be a perfect place for me to get my first home win.
“I’m sure the atmosphere will be fantastic, with a big crowd. Both teams will be desperate to win the game.”
Blackburn arrive at Bloomfield Road having picked up only one point from their last four games.
They have only managed one win in eight games under new manager Henning Berg but Appleton thinks that makes them difficult opponents.
“After a 4-1 defeat at home (by Cardiff), they will be dangerous,” he said.
“Anyone who watched the game will tell you it was never a 4-1. They conceded two late goals.
“They will be pleased to get away from Ewood Park, I think. Their away form is pretty good.
“It’s a local derby and they have plenty of quality in their squad.
“They’ve built a squad which they thought was going to get them back into the Premier League.
“Things can change for them very quickly but we are trying to make sure that doesn’t happen on Saturday.”