There have been several successful ‘father and son’ playing acts in football over the years.
The ones that spring immediately to my mind are Frank Lampard senior and Frank Lampard junior, Harry Redknapp and Jamie Rednapp, Kenny Dalglish and Paul Dalglish, Ian Wright and Shaun Wright-Phillips, and, of course (whispering) Brian Clough and Nigel Clough.
There may soon be a new addition to this illustrious list of duos; that of Paul Ince and son Thomas.
Ince senior’s footballing exploits are well documented. After beginning his career at West Ham, he played for three of the world’s biggest clubs; Liverpool, Inter Milan and Manchester United, before putting in a valuable stint at Wolves as his playing career wound down
He gained several top honours whilst at United, including winning both the League and the FA Cup twice, and also played for England, captaining his country as he earned 53 caps.
Ince junior therefore has a lot to live up to, but, being only 18-years-old, he has plenty of time in which to attempt to emulate his dad’s achievements. The young attacking midfielder has already made an impact at Liverpool, where he has been praised at youth and reserve level and has even made a senior appearance as a substitute in the Carling Cup this season.
However, notwithstanding this great start to his career at one of England’s biggest clubs, Paul Ince has done his son a huge favour by bringing him to Meadow Lane on loan. He now has the opportunity to get some regular first team football under his belt, putting him firmly in the public eye, and helping him to further impress those at Anfield.
Thomas has wasted no time in this respect, making an outstanding start at County on his debut against Gateshead in the first round of the FA Cup on Saturday. In what was a fairly dull game overall, he made an immediate impact with his pace and eye for goal. Playing in an advanced central role just behind Lee Hughes, Ince could have had a first half hat-trick.
On seven minutes, the Gateshead goalkeeper saved well from a powerful left-footed volley, nine minutes later, Ince fired a 30-yarder just over the crossbar, and finally he shot inches wide of the right-hand post on the half hour mark.
Praising Thomas’ performance, whilst acknowledging that his son may be feeling awkward in these early days at County, Paul Ince said: "I'm very pleased for him. It's not easy for him with the father and son thing. I wanted people to see he is a good player and he was unlucky not to score a couple of goals.”
The Magpies manager added: "He's a young lad but he has good awareness. He's a clever player and he will find space, and he's got a bit of pace, which we're lacking.”
Ben Davies, County’s leading goalscorer this season, who netted yet again on Saturday, was also impressed with Ince junior. He said: ”It was a tough game for him to come in to. There was not much space and it was a bit frantic, but he played well."
Davies obviously thinks Thomas Ince is a quality player who can add value to the Notts squad, stating: "He has looked good in training since he joined the club, and so has Darbs [Stephen Darby].They have both come from Liverpool, so they have had a good education.”
I think Thomas Ince can make a name for himself, no doubt about that. Judging by his first half display against Gateshead, he is not letting the pressure of being the gaffer’s son get to him. Furthermore, he has already begun to justify his father’s decision to sign him on the basis that he believes his son to be a talented player who can help the Magpies, so surely there can be no accusations of nepotism.
The good news for County is that although Thomas is due to return to Anfield in January, he is open to a loan extension until the end of the season.
He explained: "I've come to Notts County, which is a club with a lot of ambition. If I'm doing well and everyone feels it would be good for me to stay here until the end of the season then I will welcome that."
On the back of Saturday’s performance, Thomas will be firmly in contention to make his League debut away at Exeter City on Saturday. However, he may have given his dad a bit of a tough decision to make, as Craig Westcarr, a leading light for County this season with seven goals, is likely to return.
However, this is the sort of headache that makes managers happy, and if Thomas Ince continues his promising start, the Notts County fans will be happy too.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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