Football: Ince in no hurry to come home

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The Independent Online
Arsenal's hopes of luring Paul Ince back to England next season may depend on Newcastle failing in their Uefa Cup campaign.

As he prepared at Bisham Abbey for Wednesday's Wembley World Cup tie against his adopted country, Ince said he was likely to remain in Italy unless he won a trophy this year.

"I don't set myself targets but it would be nice, when I do come back, to have some kind of a trophy to show that I've done well in Italy," he said. "It is no good me saying I have been a success if I've no medals to show for it.''

With Internazionale trailing Juventus by a long way in Serie A, Ince's best hope of domestic success is the Italian Cup in which they have reached the semi-finals. But not only is the cup little regarded in Italy, Inter are also likely to go out, having been held 1-1 at home by Napoli in the first leg last week.

That leaves the Uefa Cup in which Inter meet Anderlecht in next month's quarter-finals. Newcastle, who face Monaco, are also in the competition.

Ince, who has settled after a difficult start in Italy, added: "I'm always looking to improve myself and win things. Being in Italy shows me how far I have come in my career. I like it out there now. The fans like me and the press are OK. I'm enjoying my time, it's been a change and a great experience.

"It is not as physical as English football and that makes me all the more pleased with the way I have adapted. People had said I would never make it in Italy and that I should come back.''

Ince's contentment is bad news for Arsenal who have already attempted to bring him back twice. Rangers are also interested in the England midfielder.

At present the player is more concerned with his fitness than his future. He has been doing bike work and yesterday tested his bruised thigh with a little light running.

Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer also did some running but the other injury victims, David Seaman, Tony Adams and Rob Lee, had to settle for more treatment. "They have all got until Tuesday to be fit," Glenn Hoddle, the England coach, said. "I can't leave it any later than that.

"The injured players are the spine of my team and I would like to know earlier but I have to wait. The Pauls [Ince and Gascoigne] need training as neither have played much recently.''

"Paul Ince is a mainstay," added the coach. "He has been in the side all summer and for all my games. His experience of playing against the Italians, plus the respect he has earned from them, will be a bonus for us. He is a great player and an important one for the team.''

Hoddle also denied "ludicrous'' reports that Gascoigne had left the team camp to deal with his marriage problems. "Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

England cut short their training yesterday due to the combination of the injuries and heavy rain. "We are only working on functional aspects, crossing, finishing, things like that," Hoddle said. "I cannot work on the team pattern until I know who will be fit. I may have to shuffle players into different positions.''

Not that the England mood is downbeat. Ince, when asked to talk about the Italians, responded: "They have good players but I would rather talk about what we are going to do. We will have more dangerous players than they will.

"People should now start looking at the England team and appreciate that we have technical players who can match the Italians, the Germans and the Dutch. Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand, David Beckham, Steve McManaman. They've been filling up the Italian papers. I wouldn't say they are scared of us but they do realise what a danger these players can be.''

As if to prove the point yesterday the large Italian press corps was gathered around McManaman, hanging on his every word.