Derby County’s patient wait for Tom Ince adds to sensational summer


Derby County (13/2 with Coral to win the Championship) have so much faith in attacking midfielder Tom Ince, who excelled on loan at Pride Park last campaign, that the Rams have raided Hull City to capture the winger permanently for a reported club-record fee of £4.75m up front.

That figure is likely to eventually rise to around £6m and, for once, the Midlands men will be hoping they have to shell-out any add-ons that will indicate Ince, son of former Manchester United and England enforcer Paul, was worth every penny.

At 23, Ince junior still has the world at his feet and, having captured his apparent top summer target, new coach Paul Clement can start to plan how he can help the talented wideman, who is his sixth signing already this summer, kick-on.

Rams chief executive Sam Rush said of the deal: “I’m thrilled that we have succeeded in our mission to bring Tom Ince back to Derby County… we faced a good deal of competition. We’re all aware of the impact he had on the side during his short spell on loan last season.

“Paul Clement made it clear that he wanted Tom in his squad and I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to get the deal concluded,” added the Derby big-wig.

Ince apparently had his pick of destinations, with parent club Hull rumoured to be hoping to keep the wideman at the KC Stadium, while Premier League side Newcastle United were also attributed with an interest.

The Liverpool academy product, who was once mooted to follow in his famous footballing father’s footsteps by moving to Inter Milan, seems to have shunned a return to both the top tier and Steve Bruce’s side though, for now.

Having been passed from pillar to post, representing seven different clubs, including four separate loan stints in his young career so far, Ince perhaps sensibly plumped for Pride Park. It is, after all, the place where he has come closest to realising his much-touted potential.

While his 11 goals and two assists in 18 appearances almost, but not quite, helped the Rams to what would have been a lucrative Premier League promotion, Ince appears to have bought into the project, despite former coach Steve McClaren’s departure.

Watch Ince in action:

While exciting former England Under-21 attacker Ince once hit 18 in a season for Blackpool, before subsequent stints at Crystal Palace, Hull and Nottingham Forest saw his progress stall, his game-changing performances in such a short space of time for Derby hint at a burst of development.

It’s about time, and hopefully Clement will help the youngster, for whom it makes sense to finally settle, become even more productive. Assists are an obvious area for improvement, though Ince should have plenty to aim his crosses at now Aston Villa poaching pair Darren Bent and Andreas Weimann have also rocked up at the Rams (11/4 for promotion) on permanent deals.

Centre half addition Alex Pearce, utility man Chris Baird and keeper Scott Carson complete the summer recruiting roster so far, and should ensure a stronger spine to support Ince, who now has a stable stage on which to shine.

Who knows how high the ceiling is for the young talent, but Ince promises to deliver much more for promotion-chasing Derby County, and may yet still show Liverpool what they are missing.

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