Wickham full of praise for Ince

  • Last Updated: September 11 2012, 15:19 BST

Connor Wickham has been impressed by Tom Ince following the Blackpool midfielder's introduction to the England Under-21 set up.

Tom Ince in action for England Under-21s against Norway.

Ince, who came through the youth ranks at Liverpool, burst on to the scene last season after leaving Anfield to sign for Blackpool and helped the Tangerines reach the npower Championship play-off final - scoring in his side's 2-1 defeat to West Ham at Wembley.

The son of former England international Paul has also started the current campaign in impressive fashion, scoring four goals in as many league games for Blackpool and thus earning a maiden call up to the Young Lions squad.

Ince made his debut last week against Azerbaijan in Baku and kept his place in the starting XI last night as England beat Norway 1-0 in Chesterfield to qualify for next month's European Championship play-offs as group winners.

Wickham, who scored the goal at the Proact Stadium, told FATV: "I think everyone knew what he was about. If you give him the ball he'll run and take people on, and that's what he did.

"Obviously he did well last season and he's started off well again this season.

"All the boys that have come in have gelled pretty well and any of the boys are capable of stepping into the team and doing a job, as they have shown."

Wickham, not exactly vastly experienced at Under-21 level himself with just seven caps, scored his first goal for the Young Lions last night.

It ensured that Stuart Pearce's side would avoid the likes of Spain, Germany, Italy, Holland, France or Czech Republic in Friday's draw for the play-offs. Instead England will face either Switzerland, Denmark, Slovakia, Sweden, Russia or Serbia.

Wickham expects a tough double-header next month regardless of who England are drawn against but the 19-year-old Sunderland striker is confident the Young Lions can reach a fourth consecutive finals in Israel next summer.

"I'm obviously pleased to score," said Wickham. "The timing of the goal just before half-time was important, although I don't really know how it happened.

"The defender stopped running at me and I just knew I had to put it in and I did and it turned out to be the winning goal.

"That was the most important thing - to win and win the group. That's what the manager told us before the game, to go through as top seeds and that's what we did and the boys are happy with that.

"All the boys know what's expected of them and all the boys know it's not going to be easy further down the road. But I think there is enough talent in the dressing room to go all the way.

"The aim was to win both matches and we've worked hard and done that in Azerbaijan last week and here (against Norway in Chesterfield). Hopefully now we will all go back to our clubs and stay fit and do the same again next month."