Tom Ince's connections with Gareth Southgate made the opening address awkward
admits he was faced with an awkward moment when reporting to join the England Under-21s squad earlier this week – how to address his new boss.
The Blackpool winger has known Gareth Southgate since he was a toddler and grew up watching the Under-21s Head Coach playing alongside his father Paul for the Three Lions, as well as being a family friend.
And with Ince Senior also at St. George’s Park as part of a UEFA Pro Licence meeting earlier this week, the 21-year-old admits he was a little tongue-tied.
Ince revealed: “We have a place close to his in Portugal, so when I’m on holiday I’d always see him as Gareth, but I’d never come across him as being my manager. Now, all of a sudden he is.
“And obviously with my old man being at St. George’s Park too, all three of us had a chat and it’s nice to have someone like Gareth coming in.
“A few of the lads were like, ‘what do we call the boss?’ and I said: ‘I don’t know, as you were all here before me but say Gaffer just in case he is Gareth!’”
The Three Lions are now in northern Italy, preparing to get back to Euro qualifying action on Thursday evening, when they face San Marino in Sarravalle.
And with a largely new group of players in place of the squad Ince was last part of in the summer the winger says it’s been a refreshing change.
He added: “I missed the last trip to Finland
and the game with Moldova
through injury but a lot has changed.
“There’s a lot of new faces and I feel like the old chief now, but I’m still eligible for one more year and it’s nice to have some new faces and some fantastic talent.
“Gareth and Steve [Holland, Southgate's assistant] have come in and made it very exciting for the young lads. Even from the first couple of days that I’ve been with them, I can see the new ideas that they’re trying to put across in trying to create a new sort of environment and the new lads have taken to it.
“This is a new set of lads with new ideas now, so for me to be here and be part of that experience is fantastic for me and I’m sure the new lads will enjoy it and make sure we qualify for Czech Republic.”
After missing out on the previous three games through injury, Ince’s last involvement with England came in the summer as part of the squad who travelled to Israel for the Euro Finals.
That trip ended in disappointment, but with a new campaign already afoot, Ince has already put that behind him and returned with his focus firmly set on Euro 2015 in Czech Republic.
He explained: “You can’t get too stuck on what happened in the summer, we have to look forward to Czech Republic and make sure we do the right thing by qualifying and getting there.
“It was horrible at the time. We thought we had the easier group out of the two but it shows what football can do to you if you don’t put your mind to it and approach it with the right attitude.
“That’s what the boss has been saying here, we might be playing San Marino but we have to approach it with the right attitude because if you don’t win this game, you can see what comes with it.
“But we’ve got good enough players to go out there and make sure we put in every performance that we can and make sure we come out with three points.
“It doesn’t matter who you play, whether it’s Spain, San Marino or Lithuania next Tuesday, we have to make sure we have a lethal streak about us because all eyes will be on England at any age group.”
You can buy tickets for next Tuesday’s game against Lithuania at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road by calling 0871 964 2116.