Ings vows to earn chance among Reds icons
New man passes up chance to take famous shirts
Published 23/06/2015 | 02:30
Danny Ings chose to join Liverpool because he felt that Brendan Rodgers was "the right manager" for a young player wanting to develop his craft. The 22-year-old, who will cut short his holiday to start early with his new club, has also resisted the chance to take Steven Gerrard's recently vacated No 8 shirt because he first wants to work his "socks off to earn that number one day".
Entering the last year of his contract with Burnley at the start of the season, Ings focused on scoring goals in an ultimately vain attempt to keep the team up, while also preparing for the future.
"I knew about my contract situation at the start of the season,'' said Ings, speaking in Olomouc, where he is playing for England Under-21s. "I had a big decision to make whether to sign a new contract or not. I sat down with my family and agent and we came up with (the decision that) I was going to hold out. I had quite a strong season, but obviously we went down and I was gutted. But I thought I did enough to get myself a good move and the next step and another challenge."
Liverpool showed the strongest interest from the start but other potential suitors included Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Sociedad and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Rodgers's reputation for giving youngsters a chance impressed Ings. "He is good with young players and as soon as I knew he was interested it was a no-brainer and it was best for me to join Liverpool,'' Ings said.
He would not have started regularly at United or City but will at Liverpool, who will have to pay compensation of around £6 million (Burnley want more) under Premier League rules.
"It is a challenge I am really looking forward to and I can't wait to get going,'' Ings said. "I've always had that confidence but, of course, it is a boost being a Liverpool player. I can't wait to get started; to work with Brendan Rodgers and the players at Liverpool is an unbelievable dream come true for me."
It has been a long and winding road to Anfield. After being released by Southampton as a 10-year-old, Ings played for his father's Sunday team, Itchen Tyro, in Hampshire. He went to Bournemouth, spent time on loan at the Conference South club Dorchester Town, returned to Dean Court to play in League One before signing for Burnley and helping them get promoted from the Championship.
"I've worked my way from the bottom so it is even more special for me. It's a challenge I am looking forward to. I never get complacent with anything like that and, now I've got that move, I will work even harder to try and get into that team and be the best professional I can be."
A range of shirt numbers are available at Liverpool with No 7 and No 8 having been vacated by Luis Suárez and Gerrard respectively, as well as No 28, Gerrard's first number at the club. "I stayed away from the low numbers!" Ings said with a smile. "I'd make sure I'm established before taking any of those numbers! I wouldn't want to go to Liverpool and chuck a shirt on my back like that (No 8). It's a pressure you don't need. You've got to take that pressure off yourself as a young lad coming through. The expectation at clubs like that is huge. It's such a huge club. I'm going to work my socks off to earn that number one day. That's something I'll look forward to. For now, I'll take a high number and work hard."
Although primarily a poacher with Burnley, Ings emphasised he could perform a range of roles. "I've been playing one position for the last couple of years as a main striker. Also, I can play in a number of positions, which is a good thing to have. I can play on the left, as a No 10 as I did (against Sweden) or off the right. The strikers at Liverpool are fantastic and there will be competition. The way I looked at it, I will get a lot more game time playing in different positions learning my trade as a young professional."
After the European Championship concludes, Ings will take a break. "I think they (Liverpool) were giving me three weeks from the last game of this tournament. I will be raring to go so I will probably only have two and join up with them on tour because I don't want to be playing catch-up. I would prefer to be around the squad and ready to go for the start of the season.
"They will probably give me a programme (to go to gym on holiday) but it's not got to that point yet. You need down-time and for your body to relax and prepare for the season. At the same time, I can't wait to get in."
He looks fit and fresh despite the long season and made a strong impact in the 1-0 win for Gareth Southgate's side against Sweden in Olomouc. Ings came on for Will Hughes at half-time to take the game more to Sweden and assist Harry Kane more.
"The idea was to stretch the game because there was a lot of bodies in the middle. At times we had to go a little bit direct to Harry but it paid off and I was winning the headers off him. I thought we played some tremendous football at times and a fantastic finish from Jesse (Lingard)."
Ings felt he should have had a penalty when clipped by Joseph Baffo. "He didn't see me coming around the back of him. As he has gone to clear it, he's hit the back of my leg and took me down. The ref didn't see it."
Such was the impact of Ings that there are inevitably calls for him to start against Italy in Olomouc tomorrow in tandem with Kane, especially as the pair rattled in 32 Premier League goals between them last season (21 for Kane and 11 for Ings). "I respect the manager's decision,'' Ings replied. "I will make sure I'm ready when called upon like I was (against Sweden). I want to start every game but you have to respect the staff."
All of Southgate's substitutes - Ings, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Lingard - had a positive influence on the second half. "You need that competition to push each other. Everyone came on and made an impact. That is what the manager needs.''
He is loving playing for his country, having first watched England from afar when Sven-Goran Eriksson's team were in Japan. "I remember when Ronaldinho put the ball in the net, so not a good one [memory] in 2002. He was the best player in the world at the time. I got the morning off from school and watched it at home with my family and friends. To be part of a tournament with England now is fantastic for me." (© Daily Telegraph, London)