Why Celtic signing Tom Ince would be a shrewd piece of business
Back in October, a report from TeamTalk (h/t Bristol Post) had mentioned Celtic among the potential suitors for out-of-favour Stoke City winger Tom Ince. Old Firm rivals Rangers, as well as West Brom in the Premier League, were also linked with the 28-year-old attacker but he ended up staying put at the Bet365 Stadium.
Ince’s struggles at Stoke
Ince joined the Potters from Huddersfield Town in the summer of 2018 and went on to enjoy an impressive debut season, registering 6 goals and 7 assists in 38 appearances in the Championship. However, the former Blackpool star suffered a dip in form last season, scoring only thrice in 38 league appearances for Stoke.
As a result, Ince has slipped down the pecking order under Michael O’Neill, who has handed only the winger only a couple of starts in the Championship so far this season. Ince has found himself limited to just 254 minutes of league football despite being one of the most high-profile attackers in the squad.
Celtic’s lack of depth
Celtic have had their fair share of struggles in the wide attacking department this season. The Hoops started the season somewhat light in their options on the flanks following the departures of Jonny Hayes, Scott Sinclair and Lewis Morgan in recent windows.
That was before a long-term ankle injury to star winger James Forrest in September reduced Neil Lennon to bare bones in that area. With Mikey Johnston also missing several games en route to his recovery, Celtic were forced to play without a specialist winger for the majority of the first half of the campaign.
Johnston is currently back in the mix while Forrest is also expected to make a return towards the end of January. But with Mohamed Elyounoussi due to return to Southampton next summer, a new out-and-out winger should be high on the club’s agenda this month.
Why Ince could be the answer
Putting things into perspective, Tom Ince ticks several boxes to come through the door at Parkhead as a marquee addition to Celtic’s ranks in January. The 28-year-old might have struggled to hit top gear at Stoke City but he remains a quality player with a proven track record in English football.
A seasoned campaigner in the EFL Championship, Ince has amassed an impressive 77 goals and 54 assists in 294 career appearances for Derby County, Stoke City, Nottingham Forest and Blackpool in the English second-tier. Besides that, the left-footed ace has also played close to 50 games in the Premier League for Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town.
While Ince hasn’t managed to make a great deal of impact in the top-flight, his numbers in the Championship make for some really impressive readings on paper. The former England U-21 star is essentially a right-winger by trade but is capable of operating anywhere across the forward line. That coupled with his plentiful experience, should make him a real asset to Celtic.
Still only 28, Tom Ince has plenty of time to redeem himself and a move north of the border to Celtic could be in the best interests of his career. The Hoops clearly need more depth and quality on the flanks and Ince could be a perfect fit due to his ability to create and score goals.
- Why Caleb Ekuban would be a useful signing for Celtic
- Why Celtic should eye cut-price Omar Colley swoop in January
With his contract at Stoke due to expire in 2022, Celtic should definitely try their luck with an approach for the winger this month.