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Tom Ince: How to make the grade

I’m currently playing for a pro club’s development team (U21) and I’m struggling to break into the senior squad. Is there anything I can do to give myself the edge?
Anonymous, via email

Tom Ince says:

“You need to have patience. It’s ok when you’re playing well and having a good season, but breaking through can be all about timing.

When you’re a young player playing through the leagues, trying to reach the top, you have to make sure your work ethic is right.

You have to practice every day after training and work on your weaknesses. The players at the top – the Van Persies and the Lampards – they don’t have any weaknesses.

Ryan Giggs is great example to follow. He’s my role model and I’ve based my game on his. Players like Giggs practice harder than anyone else.

When you’re playing through the leagues it’s a different style of play and you have to adapt.

The biggest thing is confidence. If you haven’t got that then there’s no point playing the game.

Self-belief is vital at a young age. You have to have that because things will get a lot easier for you with the more experience you get.

My dad has always said to me, “No matter what you do, you have to enjoy it.” You’re playing a game that you love and there’s not many people that get the chance to play it professionally.

You have to enjoy what you do. Not just the perks, but actually playing football with your team-mates, who become your mates.

You have the banter off the pitch, but they’re also your team-mates and it’s a great game to all be involved in. If you don’t enjoy it then there’s no point playing the game.”

Tom Ince wears Warrior's new Superheat Pro boot. To learn more,

For more football tips:
Gary Neville: Become a master of mentality
How to catch Wenger's eye
Carl Jenkinson: What it takes to make the grade
Frank Arnesen: What you need to reach the top
Comolli: What you need to reach the top
Peter Taylor's 3 top tips for young players
Tony Carr: Psychology for young players