Tom Ince admits England U21 failed to turn up for the European Championship finals in Israel.
The Blackpool winger was suspended for the opening 1-0 defeat by Italy but was recalled for Saturday’s embarrassing 3-1 defeat by Norway, which left Stuart Pearce’s side unable to qualify from their group.
It means that Ince, who was expected to miss the start of pre-season training with Pool on Friday week, will return home with the England squad after tomorrow’s clash with home nation Israel.
Ince said: “We were unbeaten in nine games (going into the tournament), had gone on the road and beaten Norway and were prepared for this, but we just didn’t turn up.
“We were disappointing again and we have to look at the mistakes we made.
“It hurts massively, not just for me but every one of these players. We wanted to get through and play on the big stage but it wasn’t to be.
“I thought we dominated in the first half against Norway but you can’t afford to give away silly goals at this level.
“We found ourselves 3-0 down and it is so difficult. We didn’t create enough chances and it is a major disappointment. Our performance wasn’t good enough.”
The 21-year-old, who played the full 90 minutes and earned his seventh U21 cap, will return to intense speculation about his Blackpool future.
Ian Holloway’s Crystal Palace are reported to have bid £4m for Ince, joining a host of Premier League clubs allegedly interested in a player who has 12 months remaining on his Bloomfield Road contract.
Ince’s profile rose further when one quote in an England U21 press conference made national headlines over the weekend.
He revealed that father Paul, also his manager at Blackpool, reduced him to tears as a child in a bid to toughen him up and bring the best out of him as a player.
Tom said: “As a kid, he used to make me cry. If I had a bad game he would be spitting in my face - and worse than that. That is only going to make me stronger.”