On-loan Hull City forward Tom Ince is remaining tight-lipped on his interest in joining Derby County on a permanent deal, telling the Derby Telegraph that his focus remains on helping the club back to the top-flight.
Ince, 23, opted to join Hull over Italian giants Inter Milan in the summer after his Blackpool contract expired, with the Tigers later forced to hand over a £2.3 million compensation package due to his age.
The England Under-21 international has since struggled to earn first-team opportunities at the KC stadium, however, making just seven Premier League appearances for a total of 301 minutes, and spent two forgettable months on loan at Nottingham Forest during the first half of the season.
Nevertheless, since returning to the Championship earlier this month to join Steve McClaren’s side for the rest of the campaign, the promising attacker has been in superb form, netting five goals in his first three games to earn chants of “sign him up” from the fans.
While he far from ruled out the option of a full-time switch to the iPro Stadium when pressed on the matter, with the Rams just one point off top spot in third with 15 games left, Ince understands that questions regarding his future need to be put on the back burner for now.
“We’ll have to see at the end of the season,” he said. “We’re nowhere near that yet. We’ve got a couple of months left to get to where we want to get to.
“It will be a tough couple of months but we’ve got great confidence and belief in each other to do the job in hand.”
Ince’s first few outings for the East Midlands club have earned him considerable praise from head coach McClaren, who himself has hinted at a permanent move, emphasising his strong relationship with father and former England midfielder Paul.
''I said to Paul [Ince] that we'd look after Tom,” he told the Derby Telegraph earlier this month. “I think he just needs an opportunity and a chance to find a home and that is what we want to give him. I think he can play in this team.''
Now starting to show signs of the form which saw him bag 18 goals in 44 games for Blackpool during the 2012-13 season, Ince appears primed for a major role in his loan club’s promotion push and, having also returned the praise from McClaren, it would be foolish to rule out the prospect of a long-term future under the ex-Three Lions boss.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to play in this team,” he added. “The gaffer has given me a lot of minutes, which I’ve not had recently.
“I know I need to work hard every minute of every game and the gaffer brought me in to score goals and create assists.
“As long as I can keep doing that, hopefully we’ll be up there at the end of the season.”