Akinbiyi tipping Ings for the top
Published 10/07/2014 | 15:23
Former Burnley striker Ade Akinbiyi has backed Danny Ings to prove the bookmakers wrong by ensuring the Clarets avoid relegation from the Barclays Premier League this season.
Sean Dyche's team, who were promoted as Sky Bet Championship runners-up in April, will begin their new campaign against Chelsea in just over a month knowing the consensus among the betting fraternity is that they will finish inside the bottom three.
That was a fate they were unable to avoid five seasons ago as the side which Akinbiyi won promotion with came straight back down.
Akinbiyi is confident Dyche's current crop are well equipped to survive, though, not least because they have England Under-21 international Ings among their ranks.
The ex-Bournemouth forward scored 26 goals en route to being named the Championship Player of the Year last season and Akinbiyi, himself well versed in the difference between the top two tiers of English football, believes he can make the step up.
Akinbiyi told Press Association Sport: "I'm really surprised they've kept hold of him. Sean must have done his homework well and the club has done well to keep hold of him.
"I think he's a top player, probably one of the best players that Burnley have had as a striker. He seems to score a goal every time he's on the pitch and I think he'll do the same in the Premier League because he is one of these players who gets one chance and tucks it away."
Ings' strike partnership with Sam Vokes provided 47 goals last term and the pair are the latest forwards to have flourished with the Clarets after both Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin proved hits in east Lancashire.
Akinbiyi mentored Southampton's Rodriguez during the fledgling stages of his career and believes Ings has the talent to follow him into the senior England set-up.
"Jay's a totally different type of player from Ings," Akinbiyi, who enjoyed two stints at Turf Moor and turned out in the top flight for Leicester, added.
"Ings is an in-the-box player whereas Jay can play on the left and on the right. Ings is just more of a striker who gets goals, but he creates them as well.
"He is a player that I do think will do really well in the Premier League. If he can do what he did in the Championship I think then you are looking at the (senior) international level."
Such form would likely pique the interest of other Premier League clubs but Akinbiyi can recall a move during his own nomadic career when he discovered the grass is not always greener.
In 2000, then 25, he joined Leicester and after scoring 11 goals in over 50 top-flight games with the Foxes, Akinibyi later admitted he wished he had remained with Wolves.
It is a cautionary tale which he believes Ings would do well to consider if other clubs come knocking at his door.
"He enjoys it at Burnley," Akinbiyi noted.
"Obviously if Manchester United or Arsenal are coming in for him then that's something different but if you're talking about a mid-table team in the Premier League coming for him I think he'd prefer to stay at Burnley.
"He's loved there and he's enjoying his football there. It seems like he's loyal to them and I don't see why he can't go on to bigger and better things with Burnley."
Akinbiyi is an ambassador for Prostate Cancer UK and recently joined Men United after losing his father Anthony to the disease in January.
::Men are being asked to sign for Men United by visiting www.prostatecanceruk.org/menunited.