Pace aces could hold the key for Pool

Blackpool's Tom Ince
Blackpool's Tom Ince

IAN Holloway reckons he has two massive aces up his sleeves for the return match against Birmingham on Wednesday.

Tom Ince and Matt Phillips are fast becoming two of the most sought- after young attackers in the Championship.

Their pace and skill have seen them become the main weapons in the Seasiders’ artillery and the pair have been in scintillating form since the turn of the year.

Holloway takes great pride in the fact that he spotted and signed the duo.

Phillips, 21, cost what now seems a paltry £325,000 from Wycombe at the start of the 2010-11 season, while Ince was even more of a bargain – a free transfer from Liverpool last summer.

With Birmingham trailing 1-0 from the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final, and therefore needing to push forward at St Andrew’s in the rematch, the Pool manager hopes his speedy young duo will be able to take advantage.

Seasiders boss Holloway said: “I have the utmost respect for the way Birmingham played on Friday and I have the utmost respect for their club. Their fans were magnificent.

“But I was even more delighted with the way we played, and I think Birmingham will be happy with just a one-goal deficit.

“That lead we’ve got is good, because as it stands they now have to come out and that might leave some spaces for our attackers.

“Now we have some players who might be able to take advantage of that.

“I mean our two young lads on the wings.

“Good gracious me, I wouldn’t want to face those two.”

“Those lads are fast, they are direct, they have skill and they can score goals.

“They have been superb for me in the second half of the season and the nice thing is that they are still learning every week and still improving. They are brilliant to watch and I would pay to see them myself – that’s the biggest compliment I can give them.

“We’ve also got Stephen Dobbie with the skill he has, Gary Taylor-Fletcher who is able to get hold of it and do things.

“We have a lot of strength going forward and we are going to need that. Birmingham are a very good side and they finished fourth in the table for a reason.

“So anyone getting excited or carried away by the fact that we are 1-0 up from the first leg, I want to say to them that nothing is done.

“Birmingham know that as well and it now comes down to one more 90 minutes.

“Can we deal with them? Can we deal with their set pieces? Can we keep the ball out of our net? Our gameplan is to try and score, and then to try and keep scoring more. Will it work? Who knows – we’ll find out on Wednesday.”

Pool are departing for Birmingham on Tuesdayand staying overnight in a hotel ahead of Wednesday’s crucial return clash.

“We will make sure our preparation is spot on, as it always is,” added Holloway.

“We are all looking forward to it. These are the kind of games, the kind of moments in life, that you most look forward to.”