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Palace striker: I witnessed Ince talent years ago

CRYSTAL Palace forward Aaron Wilbraham believes Blackpool star Thomas Ince was always going to make it as a professional footballer after witnessing his talent from a young age.

The attacking midfielder has taken this season by storm with 13 goals so far and the 20-year-old is set to play for the Tangerines on Saturday when they arrive at Selhurst Park.

However, Wilbraham revealed that the youngster's father, former England midfielder Paul, used to bring him along to training at Milton Keynes Dons.

"When Paul Ince was my manager at MK Dons, he used to bring him to training when he was a 14-year-old kid and he used to join in with us back then," Wilbraham told Advertiser Sport.

"You could see he was going to be a good player, so he'll be one we'll have to keep our eye on, but obviously we'll be concentrating on what our attacking players can do to them rather than what their players can do to us."

Ince, who was released by Liverpool in 2011, has had to revive his career in the Championship at Bloomfield Road, but Wilbraham says sometimes you've got to drop down a level in order to make it back to the top.

"Sometimes if you're at a club like Liverpool where you've got a lot of players from all different countries, you have to take one step backwards to get yourself noticed rather than being stuck in Liverpool's reserves," he said.

"It's good to go and prove yourself in the Championship, which is obviously still a good level and there's not much difference – I think the gaps getting closer every year.

"Looking at the teams we played last year when I was Norwich, there's a not a lot of difference.

"Obviously you've got the top four or five, but apart from that, if you can prove yourself in the Championship, you'll definitely get a chance to prove yourself in the Premier League."

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For a full-page exclusive interview with Wilbraham, who talks about Glenn Murray's fantastic form this season and the influence Ian Holloway has had on the squad since his arrival, do not miss today's Croydon Advertiser.

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