Regular football the hope for homeward bound Ings
The tributes and kind words from his manager and teammates as he departs say a lot about the sort of player that Danny Ings was at Liverpool and how much he will be missed. It was stated earlier in the summer that Liverpool would like him to stay but would allow him to move on for regular football especially as his 3 year spell at Liverpool has been unable to provide him with that opportunity, largely in part due to the 2 long-term knee injuries he suffered, with the 1st coming at the worst possible time for Ings in the wider context of his career.
In the summer of 2015, it was a case of replacing the front-line options with Fabio Borini, Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert replaced by Danny Ings, Christian Benteke and Divock Origi, although the Belgian had been signed 12 months earlier and loaned to Lille for the preceding campaign. Daniel Sturridge also remained at the club meaning Liverpool had a variety of options as they attempted to wipe the slate clean off the back off a humiliating 6-1 defeat at Stoke City on the final day of the previous season.
Danny Ings had finished the 2014-15 season with 11 goals for Burnley including a spell where he scored 5 in 6 games at the start of 2015 as Burnley succumbed to an immediate return to the Championship and Ings remained in the Premier League by signing for Liverpool. He was named as a substitute for the opening 4 matches of the season, failing to feature against Stoke, Bournemouth or Arsenal, however Brendan Rodgers sent him on around the hour mark in the home defeat to West Ham United with the Reds trailing 2-0, where they ultimately ended up on the wrong end of a 3-0 reverse.
After the international break, he made his 1st Liverpool start in the following game at Old Trafford as they suffered a defeat once again despite an outrageous overhead kick from Christian Benteke.
After a brief appearance for his European debut in Bordeaux, Ings was once again a substitute as Liverpool welcomed Norwich to Anfield in the Premier League. He made an immediate impact off the bench as he replaced Christian Benteke at halftime and scored within 3 minutes as he ran onto Alberto Moreno’s pass and charged at the Norwich defence, sliding it under John Ruddy and then running in front of the Kop where I sat towards the corner flag, and then up the Centenary Stand as it was at the time. Liverpool didn’t hold the lead and it was another 1-1 draw although the Kop burst into renditions of Danny, Danny Ings to the tune of Boney M’s Daddy Cool, once used for the Australian Harry Kewell.
Ings was on target again in the midweek cup match against Carlisle and had chances to get more goals as the tie went into extra time and then on to a penalty shootout where he would score Liverpool’s final penalty as Adam Bogdan made 3 penalty saves to take Liverpool into the next round en route to Wembley.
He started against Aston Villa and despite not scoring, had done enough to convince England manager Roy Hodgson to select him for the squad to face Estonia and Lithuania. The highs just kept coming as Danny Ings started his 1st Merseyside Derby on the following Sunday, scoring in yet another 1-1 draw as Brendan Rodgers managed his final game. Ings will always be the man who scored the final Liverpool goal of Rodgers' reign.
Ings made his England debut as a substitute in Lithuania, replacing Harry Kane in a 3-0 win. In a cruel twist of fate, he would suffer an ACL injury in Jurgen Klopp’s very 1st training session ruling him out for the season although he did make a cameo appearance alongside fellow returnee Jordan Henderson at West Brom on the final day.
He put his effort into getting himself fit and made several appearances at the start of the 2016/17 season for the U23s and refused to acknowledge it to be a lower level than that he was playing a year earlier. Often offering encouraging advice to young Ben Woodburn, he was a fixture on the scoresheet but it was his actions following the U23s match with Leicester in September 2016 that will stay with me, video calling my girlfriend who was suffering from morning sickness and unable to make the game as I met him.
Several players would have been like 'not doing that, takes too long' but in another nod to the great guy that sits behind the player, it was something Ings was happy to oblige.
He returned from injury in a league cup tie against Derby County, playing around half an hour before making his Anfield return against Tottenham in the following round, almost 13 months since his last appearance at the ground for the first team. Liverpool were 2-0 up thanks to Daniel Sturridge when Divock Origi made way for Ings, much to the delight of those inside Anfield, only to see him go down in agony before the final whistle blew.
Days later, it was confirmed he had suffered another knee injury and would require surgery, ruling him out once again for the season. As he continued his recovery, Jurgen Klopp handed him a number of substitute appearances before handing him his 1st start in 2 and a half years against Everton in April. His only other start of the season would be in the match with Stoke where just like the Merseyside Derby, it would end 0-0.
Sharing some thoughts on the comprehensive Premier League Top Six Preview show above, it was clear that the start of the transfer window brought with it rumours that Ings would leave Anfield in search of more regular 1st team football. Having recently turned 26, Danny will now be hoping to put those injury nightmares behind him as he heads back to his hometown club of Southampton where he was once a youth player. Good Luck to Danny, except of course when he plays against Liverpool, which by virtue of this season being a loan agreement, won’t be for at least 12 months.