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77 goals, 54 assists – Celtic signing this out-of-favour Stoke star would get them a proven performer

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 19: Tom Ince of Blackburn Rovers looks on during the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Blackburn Rovers at Bet365 Stadium on December 19, 2020 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

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. 

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 12: Ben Pearson of Preston North End is challenged by Tom Ince of Stoke City during the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Preston North End at Bet365 Stadium on February 12, 2020 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

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.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 15: Tom Ince of Stoke City is challenged by Tom Carroll of Queens Park Rangers during the Sky Bet Championship match between Queens Park Rangers and Stoke City at The Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on December 15, 2020, in London, England. (Getty Images)

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.

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Tom Ince of Stoke City and Caolan Boyd-Munce of Birmingham City compete for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match between Stoke City and Birmingham City at Bet365 Stadium on July 12, 2020, in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Verdict

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.

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With his contract at Stoke due to expire in 2022, Celtic should definitely try their luck with an approach for the winger this month.

Written by Sayan Chatterjee

A Premier League enthusiast and an avid follower of the beautiful game.

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