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Burnley’s 1-0 victory over Manchester City on Saturday evening gave the Lancashire outfit a real chance of staying in the Premier League against the odds in what would be an extraordinary achievement for Sean Dyche and his shoe-string assembled squad. A season that has seen them take points off Chelsea, Manchester United, Southampton and now the current title-holders has already made it a sensational campaign for the Clarets who may be about to see one of their players earn a cap for England for the first time since Martin Dobson in 1974.
Danny Ings faces solid competition from the likes of Harry Kane, Saido Berahino and Charlie Austin to be the new star in Roy Hodgson’s attack for the matches with Lithuania and Italy at the end of March but, despite having scored less than his rivals, his 9 Premier League goals are extremely hard to ignore. That is certainly the case with Real Sociedad, Newcastle, Everton, Arsenal, Liverpool and most recently Manchester United, all whom have expressed an interest in signing Ings once his contract expires in June.
Amid the rumours that have circulated since October which have told of Ings rejecting a new contract offer at Burnley, seeing a £4 million bid from Liverpool turned down in January and having signed a pre-contract deal with Real Sociedad, it has indeed been testament to the man-management skills of Dyche and the application of Ings that his performances have not suffered in the face of such rife speculation.
The 23 year old has missed just 3 league matches and although he’s rated as Burnley’s 6th best player by Whoscored.com, his 9 goals, 4 assists and a rate of 1 chance created per game make Ings by far their biggest threat.
Both goals in the victory over Stoke, vital goals in draws with Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion and the winner over relegation rivals QPR have been indications to his cool-touch in-front of goal but many will point there is much more to his game than goal-scoring.
A player who is as comfortable turning with his back to goal and creating space between the lines as he is heading in a cross past David De Gea at Old Trafford, he is an intelligent reader of the game, one who operates with astute movement and a desire to run in behind defenders and in to space. Running is certainly something he does a lot of, both off the ball and on it, it was not a surprise to recently hear his manager saying that the striker can be “criticised for trying too hard”.
His work in providing Ashley Barnes for his recent goal against West Brom is an insight into the striker’s ability; the look over his shoulder whilst anticipating the long ball, the clever feint of the shoulder and the movement to retrieve the follow-up. Then he displays the strength to hold off two defenders before finding Barnes in the centre with an improvised cross.
The link-up with Barnes, Scott Arfield and George Boyd, with whom he played off in the victory over City, has been superb at times this season, often more deserving than the 25 points from 18 games Burnley have accrued. His understanding with Sam Vokes in the build up to Ings’s goal against QPR is almost telepathic, a sign of a player perfectly in synch with his team-mates and thriving off their service.
After scoring 26 goals to fire Burnley into the Premier League last year Ings was named the club’s player of the year and he looks set to retain that accolade by scoring the goals that could well keep them there against all expectation. If he manages to achieve that, few will begrudge him his decision to end his four years at Turf Moor and pursue his ambitions elsewhere.
When it is announced on Thursday, Hodgson’s next England team could be too soon for Ings who is likely to stay in the under-21s, for whom he has 4 goals in 7 appearances, but if he continues on his current path many senior caps are sure to come.
Written by Adam Gray
Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamGray1250
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