The England Under-21 manager Stuart Pearce has challenged his winger Tom Ince to replicate his goalscoring form for Blackpool at international level.
Ince, who has five caps for Pearce's team but is yet to score for England, has risen to prominence with the club, with the 20-year-old scoring nine goals for the Championship outfit so far in the current campaign.
He missed some good chances in the 2-0 win over Northern Ireland on Tuesday and even with that contest taking place at the home of his club side, Ince – son of the former England captain Paul – was unable to open his goalscoring account.
Pearce was delighted with Ince's efforts and feels the sort of finishing he has demonstrated for Blackpool is all the wide man needs to add to his game for the Under-21s.
"Tom is just short of a goal for us at the moment," Pearce said. "He is a very intelligent player – his movement is clever, running in behind and coming into pockets of space, and he just needs to supplement that by showing us at international level the goalscoring record he has at club level.
"He is a good finisher at club level, and he just needs that ball to sit for him and then he can find the back of the net and off we go from there. It is probably the only criticism that Tom will have for himself at the moment – that he has not found the back of the net in the games he has played for us.
"But he has been outstanding for us. He has come on the scene this season and done extremely well."
Although Ince could not get on the scoresheet, it was a comfortable evening's work for England, whose goals came through Connor Wickham's 45th-minute header and Benik Afobe's 77th-minute penalty as the they ensured a 100 per cent record for 2012 with a sixth victory from six games – a sequence in which they have not conceded once.
"I think what we have got at the moment in our squad is individuals that can really open up defences – clever footballers like Incey, Nick Powell and Josh McEachran," Pearce said.
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