Armfield: U21s can help Ince reach top

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Blackpool FC great Jimmy Armfield believes Tom Ince has every chance of emulating his famous father Paul by winning full England honours.

Armfield, who won 43 caps and played for England at the 1962 World Cup finals in Chile, believes the 20-year-old, who scored his ninth goal of the season in Saturday’s home draw with Bolton, can only enhance his prospects by playing for England Under-21s.

Ince is set to make his fifth U21 appearance in tomorrow’s friendly against Northern Ireland at his home ground of Bloomfield Road and Armfield, who spent his entire career at the club, said: “Playing international football is a nice distraction from the domestic campaign.

“I’m a big believer that playing for England in the youth age groups and the Under-21s gives you good grounding for the rest of your career. and Tom will need that if he’s to follow in Paul’s footsteps.

Ince junior previously represented his country at U17 and U19 levels and Armfield added: “Stuart Pearce has done reasonably well in charge of the U21s and I’m sure Tom will be looking forward to working more with him and the team of FA coaches.

“Sometimes it’s nice to hear a different voice in training and to practise with players from other clubs because you can learn so much.”

Manager Pearce’s side recently qualified for next year’s UEFA European Championship in Israel, Ince having played in both legs of the decisive play-off against Croatia.

Tomorrow’s 7.30pm kick-off concludes a successful year for the side, and Armfield remembers playing himself in an international fixture with a difference on home soil over 50 years ago.

He said: “We used to have a Football League side which played two games a season and I captained them against the League of Ireland at Blackpool in 1960.

“We won 5-2 and it was a good stepping stone for getting yourself noticed for England Under-23s, as it was back then, or maybe progressing to the senior side under Walter Winterbottom,” said Armfield of the team that included Danny Blanchflower, John Connelly, Bert Trautmann and Scotland’s Denis Law.

Armfield has also given his seal of approval to new Blackpool boss Michael Appleton. He said: “I think Ian Holloway was fantastic for this club but hopefully Appleton will prove to be a good appointment as well. “If he manages to mirror Ian’s record at Blackpool he’ll be very successful indeed.”

Tickets are still available for tomorrow’s game, priced £10 for adults and £5 for children. A family ticket (two adults and two children) is available at the discount price of £25.

They are available from the Bloomfield Road ticket office on 0844 847 1953 or online at