Phillips has Premier League quality

Blackpool's Matt Phillips

Blackpool's Matt Phillips

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PAUL Ince believes Matt Phillips has the potential to be a top Premier League star because he’s never seen a player hit the ball so well.

The 22-year-old has found it tough this season, with injury and off-the-field issues denying him a consistent run in the side.

But the winger has shown signs of returning to his best form in recent weeks and fired a brilliant winner against Crystal Palace.

And his manager is convinced he’ll make it to the very top. Ince said: “Matty Phillips will be a Premier League player one day, I believe that.

“He has all the assets to be a top Premier League player. I’ve never seen a player strike the ball as well as he does.

“I think a confident Matty Phillips will play in the Premier League. And he’s getting there.”

Phillips missed nine weeks of the season when he was forced to have surgery on a troublesome toe injury.

Premier League side Southampton had a £5m bid for him turned down last summer, resulting in the player being left out of Pool’s first two games because Ian Holloway claimed he wasn’t in the right frame of mind.

And Ince thinks that had an effect. He said: “There was obviously a potential move for Matty at the start of the season but he didn’t go. I think that knocked him back a little.

“Then he got injured and it was a case of coming in and trying to pick up the pieces.

“I think you can see in the last couple of games that he’s growing more confident, getting more shots off and putting himself in positions where he can score goals.

“He didn’t have the confidence to do that before.”

After firing 18 goals last season, much was expected of the Scotland international.

He has managed only three goals for the Seasiders but Ince reveals he’s always working to improve his game.

“He’s a great lad, works so hard and is never a problem,” said the Blackpool boss.

“He’s a very good player. It’s a chance for Matty to kick on now.

“I don’t think his performances have been bad.

“Some players will sulk and feel sorry for themselves, but not Matty.

“He stays behind and does a lot of shooting after training, just to get that feeling of putting the ball into the back of the net.”