THERE is no doubt who Pool’s star of the last fortnight has been.
They may have lost two of their last three outings but in Tom Ince they seem to have found a lad capable of becoming a standout player.
Ince is 19 and has played only a handful of games, so it is important not to get too carried away or burden him with unnecessary pressure. But it is rare for one so young to make the impact he has.
His two goals against Doncaster oozed class. They required skill, composure and pinpoint shooting accuracy.
Players of 29 can’t do that, never mind 19 – and that’s why it is hard to come to any other conclusion than that Ince, if he continues to keep his head and work hard, can be a major force. Then again, given his old man was an England captain and one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, perhaps is no surprise young Tom is such a talent.
Father Paul was a great player, if a different type to his son. Whereas Tom is slight in build, brimming with skill and fast as a greyhound, his dad’s game was based on tough-tackling and being the ultimate midfield general.
Paul has been a big influence on his son’s career and can take a lot of credit for Tom’s development, even if it did require some straight-talking from time to time.
“My dad is my fiercest critic and it was interesting growing up – he used to make me cry in the park if I’d had a bad game,” recalled Tom, with a smile that probably wasn’t present when he was getting one of Ince senior’s rollickings.
“He was that bad – spitting in my face, shouting out loud. But I didn’t mind because it wasn’t as if I was being told off by someone who didn’t have a clue. It was coming from someone who has done really well in the game and so I knew it was worth listening to.”
As you’d expect, Ince has been kicking a football around for as long as he can remember, starting in Italy.
“When dad was at Inter Milan, I was only three but I can remember being out on the streets kicking a ball,” he said. “Obviously having those genes from my dad, I just loved football. I’m not saying I’m as good as him but I do love the game like he did.
“He didn’t drum it into me that I had to be a footballer or put any pressure me, because he isn’t that kind of dad. I’ve just picked it up myself and if I can have half the career he had I’ll be happy.”
What Tom must realise, however, is that it is rare for a player’s son to be as good as their father. Kenny and Paul Dalglish, Steve and Steve McMahon jnr, Mike and Nicky Summerbee ... there are endless examples.
“A lot of sons follow in their father’s footsteps. I will just try to be myself and hopefully buck the trend,” added Tom, who speaks with incredible confidence and maturity for one so young.
“There’s always pressure, and because I have the name I do I am always going to get compared to my dad. But I think I am a totally different type of player. I play in a different position and I am left-footed.
“And I look at having a famous dad as a good thing. He can analyse my game and guide me down the right route.
“So the way I see it is that I’ve got an advantage on others because I can get advice, not just from my gaffer at Blackpool but from my dad too.
“Whatever I’m told, I respect it, take it on board and take it into the next game. “That way I hope I can continue to improve. I think I can because I’ve only just started. There’s a lot more to come from me.”
Blackpool fans hope so too.