TOM Ince believes he will be an even better player next season as he counts down the days to the new campaign.
Ince can’t wait to get going again after a first year in Tangerine which culminated in a goal at Wembley in the play-off final.
The result might have been heart-breaking – a 2-1 defeat to West Ham which cost Pool a place in the Premier League – but at least Ince can reflect on a season in which his career took a huge leap forward as he cemented a first-team place.
The 20-year-old said: “Last season was great for me. The experiences I had were unbelievable, especially after Christmas.
“I had a smile on my face every time I knew a Saturday was coming around and I was able to get myself on the pitch.
“When you finish the season, you can’t wait to get away and have a break from football, but I’m now counting down the days till we go again.
“I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to a gruelling pre-season but I can’t wait for Keith’s testimonial against Everton, the Morecambe game in the Capital One Cup and the start of the season.
“I’ll be going into this season with even more excitement and hope, to try to help the team to win as many games as possible and get as far up the table as we can.”
What has undoubtedly helped Ince flourish is having the freedom to express himself in Ian Holloway’s adventurous 4-3-3 formation. Ince is well aware of that and grateful for his licence to roam.
“I’ve been watching England and a lot of people were criticising the likes of Ashley Young for not scoring enough goals,” he added.
“But that’s difficult in a 4-4-2 because you are more of a midfield player than a winger.
“The formation we play really does suit me, Matty Phillips, Gary Taylor-Fletcher and whoever else plays out there.
“If you can add goals to your game, then it’s always going to improve and help you. I got eight goals last season, so I’ll be looking to double that.
“The big derby games against Blackburn, Bolton and Burnley are ones to look forward to, and the Wolves one will also be good for me because I’ll be playing at a stadium where my dad played various times.
“Millwall’s a bit of a long-distance trip to start with, but it will be nice to get it out of the way and hopefully with a win.”