Danny Ings: A Burnley Fan On Why He Could Be Liverpool's Trump Card

Suarez was at his devastating best last night, but that hasn't stopped Rodgers looking for understudies...
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Suarez was at his devastating best last night, but that hasn't stopped Rodgers looking for understudies...

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It's only a few months since Danny Ings was being linked with a move back to Bournemouth after two years of disappointing returns since becoming Burnley's first ever £1 million teenager.

Injuries disrupted the young forward's progress, but 15 goals in 21 appearances for the Clarets - the surprise package of this year's Championship - have led to an England under-21 call and reports Liverpool could move for him in the January transfer window.

Plenty of Burnley fans were nonplussed with rumours ex-boss Eddie Howe wanted to take the attacker back to Dean Court this summer, especially as the club was going to get its money back for a player who struggled to make an impact in the previous two seasons.

Ings was in and out of the side and played in various positions as Burnley tried to work out how to get the best out of him, with just six goals in the last two years indicating the problems he initially had settling in at Turf Moor. He wasn't quite viewed as a flop, but it wasn't far off.

But this season, it's all been different.

The 21-year-old was on fire during pre-season and carried on his excellent form into the campaign proper, scoring five times in Burnley's first seven matches, taking up Charlie Austin's mantle of being the main man. Austin was sold to QPR shortly before the season opener.

Ings has barely stopped to catch breath since then, notching up braces against Birmingham City, Nottingham Forest and QPR to fire Burnley to the top of the league. Ings also opened his account for England under-21s with a couple against footballing superpower San Marino.

It's been trickier for both Ings and the Clarets in the last month, with the striker slowing down a little with only two goals in Burnley's current winless run of six matches.

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It's no coincidence that Ings missed Tuesday night's 0-0 draw with Watford due to an ankle strain and the Clarets looked toothless in his absence - a worrying sign of what the second half of the season could hold for the club if Ings is tempted by a move in the January transfer window.

Speculation linking Ings with the big boys should come as no surprise to Clarets supporters as they're well used to the family jewels being flogged off every season, but Liverpool fans with their heads in the Premier League bubble might wonder, justifiably, if Ings is ready for the step up.

It's obviously an inexact science which players will adapt to the challenge of the Premier League, but Ings appears to have the ability, attitude and temperament to play at the top level.

Ings always played with a spark in his boots even when he wasn't scoring regularly. There was a sense in the crowds that something would happen when he had the ball at his feet, even if the decision-making and execution of the final product were often badly lacking.

Having added goals to his locker this season - occasionally in spectacular style - it's easy to see why Brendan Rodgers and other Premier League bosses might want to snap Ings up early and steal a march on their rivals.

Ings may be among the Football League's leading scorers this season, but he's a provider as well and has formed a near-telepathic partnership with fellow striker Sam Vokes this season. He's also scored all types of goals - mazy runs, headers, poacher's efforts, volleys - making him extremely unpredictable and difficult to defend against.

He appears to fit Rodgers' Liverpool blueprint as well: an English talent with plenty of pace and incision who is young enough to be moulded.

If I was a betting man - which I am, albeit a pretty rubbish one - I'd gamble on Ings playing in both the Champions League and for England at some point in his career. It might not Liverpool he goes to, but Ings will be a firm fixture in tabloid rumour mill columns for the next few weeks.

As for Burnley, they will be desperate to hang on to their prime asset for the rest of the season to maintain their promotion push, but with Ings only having 18 months on his contract a deal may be forced next month if the price is right.

For the Clarets, the hunt for the next Danny Ings, who was himself the next Charlie Austin, who was the next Jay Rodriguez, who was the next Steven Fletcher, has to start now.

But Ings will always be remembered as one of our own, regardless of what his future holds.