Licence hitch could derail Ince's hopes

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The Independent Football

Paul Ince's prospects of becoming the new Blackburn Rovers manager could be damaged by the former England captain's failure to complete his coaching qualifications.

At Macclesfield Town, then Milton Keynes Dons, Ince has shown he has the potential to be a leading manager but he does not possess the Uefa Pro-Licence, which is now compulsory to work in the Premier League.

Ince, who is understood to be a candidate to replace his former Manchester United team-mate Mark Hughes at Ewood Park, would need special dispensation if offered the post. Gareth Southgate is managing Middlesbrough on that basis after the club convinced the Premier League that, because of playing for England, he had not had the chance to complete his training. However, he was in a position to begin the Pro-Licence course and is currently working towards the qualification.

Glenn Roeder and Avram Grant have also managed in the Premier League under dispensation, at Newcastle and Chelsea respectively. Roeder's studies had been interrupted by ill health, Grant had an Israeli coaching qualification which meant he was able to embark on a Pro-Licence.

It is not clear how far Ince has progressed up the coaching ladder; he needs to get the Uefa B and A Licences before he can start the Pro-Licence course.

Blackburn might still be able to convince the Premier League to allow Ince to work as opportunities to gain all the relevant qualifications have in the past been limited by the availability of places. However, the course has been running since 2002 and more than 120 coaches have qualified.

The League Managers' Association has usually emphasised the need for managers to be qualified, but under new chief executive, Richard Bevan, they are inclined to feel it is a matter for the Premier League and the individual manager.

Alongside Ince, Sam Allardyce, the former Bolton and Newcastle manager, is the other leading contender to succeed Hughes. John Williams, the Blackburn chairman, revealed he would not be rushed into making an appointment. "I can't set a timescale," Williams said, "there's no point in setting false hurdles that you don't need to jump over."

"We can't be too hasty," he added. "It's a crucial, important decision but it's obvious I'd like to do it as quickly as possible."