IAN Holloway described reports of a deal to sell Tom Ince to Manchester United as “rubbish”.
The 21-year-old winger has been in the form of his life this season, firing six goals in seven games.
His form earned him an England U21 call-up and interest from a number of Premier League clubs, with one report claiming a bid had been received from Old Trafford.
But Holloway blasted: “It’s absolute rubbish.
“The way Tom’s playing, the best clubs in the world might want him at the end of the season. Manchester United are one of those but I’m sure they would be talking to me first.
“If they were going to buy Ince I would know before anyone. I can assure you it’s all total speculation.”
Pool turned down a £5m bid from Swansea in August. The winger has publicly committed himself to the club and his dad (former England international Paul) said he wants Tom to stay at Bloomfield Road this season.
And although Holloway is protective of his star man, he isn’t surprised by the speculation.
He added: “It wouldn’t shock me if Tom ended up a regular in the England team and it wouldn’t surprise me if he played for one of the top teams.
“To play for England you seem to have to play for one of the big four, as they don’t pick anyone unless Arsene Wenger or Sir Alex Ferguson think they are brilliant. No-one listens when I say someone’s good.
“I told Stuart Pearce the other week that in my opinion Tom Ince is playing better than Alex Oxlaide-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott.
“Just because he’s in the Championship playing for us, it shouldn’t make a difference.”
Having players linked to United shows just how far Holloway’s side have come.
But he revealed it’s not the first time.
“It’s great that clubs like Manchester United are looking at our players. I thought Charlie Adam was good enough for them too when they were looking at him.
“If Paul Scholes was retiring and they needed a passer, I told Sir Alex they should be taking Charlie.
“When we played against them, Ferguson said he didn’t realise he was that good.
“He ended up going to Liverpool, where it has not worked out, and he’s gone on to another Premier League club (Stoke). I’m sure he’ll be a star there as he’s a top-class player.”