Ince Praises Father and Manager
Blackpool winger Tom Ince has paid a warm tribute to the influence of his father and his manager as the days count down towards the biggest game of his fledgling career.
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Ince, the son of former England international midfielder Paul, left Liverpool in the summer with a solitary Carling Cup substitute appearances to his name.
The 20-year-has gone on to establish himself as a key member of Ian Holloway's side, turning in a succession of dazzling displays on the way to Saturday's npower Championship play-off final against West Ham at Wembley.
"I can't fault my dad," Ince said. "He's brought me up in the best way I could have ever wished for.
"With my dad it's father to son, but it's also player to player. I've been having that double advantage and double guidance where someone can point me in the right direction both on and off the field.
"He'll be the first to praise me and the first to criticise me. I'll always get criticism and praise from my father as well as the gaffer."
Ince's elegant wing play is a far cry from his father's all-action, combative style - something that has resulted in some playful barracking from opposition players and fans during Blackpool's promotion push.
"A lot of this season I've been given a lot of stick from various clubs which isn't my fault," he explained.
"It's something I have to accept. I am who I am and I'm proud of that.
"It's great to have someone you can go home to and analyse your game."
Holloway proved just as hard a taskmaster to impress in the early months of the campaign, with Ince's initial route to the Blackpool first team proving a tough one to negotiate.
Early success came with a brace from the bench in October's 2-1 home win over Doncaster, but the former England Under-17 and Under-19 international feels the fact it took him until the turn of the year to become a regular starter stands as a vital part in his development.
"Maybe I came here thinking I'd play right from the word go, but the gaffer brought me through in the best way," he said
"Since the turn of Christmas I've had a good run of games and feel that's been my best form.
"One of the biggest things with the gaffer is he allows me to express myself. He has given me tremendous inspiration and motivation to play the football that I play."
West Ham head into Saturday's lucrative showdown as clear favourite in the eyes of many observers, having already triumphed 4-0 and 4-1 over the Seasiders this term.
Ince, whose father started his professional career at Upton Park, is happy to embrace the underdogs' tag as he believes it will count for little when the whistle goes at the national stadium.
"You have to look at West Ham, they're big favourites going into it," he added.
"They've got a lot of Premier League stars on big wages and a big budget.
"But that doesn't mean anything on the day. We can just go there and play the football we play. We know that if we play the right way we can hurt West Ham a lot.
"If we win, I'll have the biggest smile on my face and it will have been an unbelievable season."