STUART Pearce has named Tom Ince as England’s “outstanding” young player.
Pearce has selected the Blackpool winger in his squad for next week’s Under-21 European Championships qualifying double-header.
Ince has started the season in fine form for the Seasiders, scoring four goals in three games.
And Pearce, who managed Team GB’s football team at the Olympics, says Ince thoroughly deserves his call-up.
“Tom has done extremely well for Blackpool,” Pearce said. “I went to the play-off final in May and thought he was the outstanding player on the field that day.
“He’s started this season really well – we’ve had all his games watched. He’s scoring goals, he’s creating goals, and the way he’s started the season he’s probably the outstanding U21 player in terms of form.”
Ince becomes the first Blackpool player to be called-up for the U21s since Rob Clare in August 2004. The defender, who had just moved from Stockport, didn’t manage an international appearance.
Peter Clarke was also selected during his loan spell at Bloomfield Road in 2002.
You have to go much further back to find Pool’s last full England international. Alan Ball was a Seasiders player when he was named man of the match in the 1966 World Cup final. He joined Everton soon afterwards.
Despite the club’s revival in recent years, only Matt Phillips has come close to getting the nod for England.But after being told he wasn’t in Pearce’s plans, the forward declared himself Scottish. It’s a totally different story for Ince, who said: “It’s a great feeling to be called up.
“This call-up shows that I’ve started the season well. I’ve really aimed for the best and hopefully I can take my club performances on to the international stage.
“I’ve played in a couple of age groups for England, Under-17 and Under-19, and that’s always nice for a youngster coming through, but the Under-21s is one step away from the full team. I was hoping it would come for me soon and I’m delighted it has.”
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Ince since Ian Holloway plucked him from Liverpool’s reserves. Despite talk of a move to the Premier League, Ince committed his future to Blackpool in The Gazette earlier this week.
And he insists he couldn’t be happier. “It’s come together nicely following a good few months for me, as well as the back end of last season,” he said.
“It’s important that you enjoy these moments but I’ll always keep my feet grounded. I’ve scored four and got some assists, and my selection shows I’ve been noted and I’m over the moon with the call-up.
“There are some very talented players in that team, a lot of players who play at some of the top clubs in the Premier League. It’s nice to be mixing with them.”
England play Azerbaijan in Baku next Thursday, then return to these shores to face Norway at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium the following Monday.
Ince will be in good company, with established Premier League stars like Jack Rodwell and Jordan Henderson also in the squad.
And the Blackpool man can’t wait to work with Pearce. He said: “I think I’ve met him briefly once or twice.
“He took Team GB far in the Olympics and he’s been the Under-21s manager for quite a while, with a lot of players like Tom Cleverley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Butland moving up to first-team. It’s a first-time call-up but it’s a chance for me to impress and have a feel of the international stage.”
- YOUNG Blackpool goalkeeper Chris Kettings has been named in the Scotland Under-21 squad for their qualifiers against Luxembourg and Austria.
The 19-year-old is yet to make a senior appearance for Pool but played twice on loan at Morecambe last season.