Southampton struggled for firepower in the 2017/18 campaign under Mauricio Pellegrino, as the likes of Manolo Gabbiadini and Shane Long struggle to find their goalscoring touch whilst Charlie Austin was injury prone as ever.
The Saints’ struggle in front of goal convinced Mark Hughes to take decisive action this summer by parting with £20 million to secure the signature of Danny Ings. After spending almost the entirety of his three year stint at Liverpool either sidelined with cruciate ligament injuries or out of favour due to the form of Roberto Firmino, it felt like the right time for him to embark on a new challenge this summer.
The prospect of a new challenge cropped up and Ings duly accepted before packing his bags for the south coast. Despite the fact he has spent plenty of time away from football during the past three seasons, the 26-year-old has started his Southampton career in flying form with 2 goals from his first 3 starts.
Clinical and instinctive are two words which would aptly describe his 2 goals against Everton and Crystal Palace, so it seems his natural goal-scoring talent remains pivotal to his plying style even after his extended time away from the game. Southampton supporters have certainly been impressed by what they have seen so far, as is Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson.
During an interview with TalkSPORT, Merson hailed Ings’ “clever footballing brain” before comparing him to Teddy Sheringham and tipping him to break into the England squad in the not too distant future.
It’s important that expectant onlookers do not get carried away by Ings’ promising start to his career at Southampton, but the nature of his first 2 goals for the club certainly serve to validate Merson’s argument.
With Jamie Vardy’s retirement from international football to consider, the door is now open for Ings to seize the opportunity to break into the squad and offer something different in attack.
Aside from Harry Kane, Southgate selected Danny Welbeck and Marcus Rashford in his most recent England squad – two players who tend to operate in a left-sided attacking role and struggle for regular opportunities with their respective clubs.
With that in mind, Ings has a golden opportunity to impress Southgate during the course of the next few weeks with Southampton, and if he continues in the same vein in which he has started his career there is no doubt he will be at the forefront of the manager’s thinking.
After everything Ings has been through it’s rather miraculous that he has returned without showing signs of rustiness or a lack of match sharpness and that’s a testament to how hard he has worked behind the scenes, so if he continues to find the back of the net on a regular basis under Hughes it should only be a matter of time before he adds to his solitary England cap.
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