Industrious Ings knows Howe far he has come

Danny Ings of Liverpool controls the ball during the friendly football match between English Premier League side Liverpool and A-League side Brisbane Roar.
Danny Ings of Liverpool controls the ball during the friendly football match between English Premier League side Liverpool and A-League side Brisbane Roar.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • The scrape on his hand, he sheepishly explains, came from falling off a hover board. It seems Danny Ings has not mastered what is something of a craze in Liverpool's dressing room. He is devoted to improving other skills.

It is 10am and Ings is ready for training. Hours later, he will still be on the Melwood pitches, honing his finishing, movement and touch.

"The gaffer and staff have been fantastic with me doing extra work, which is what I love," he says.

Work and learning: They are why he came to Liverpool, why he is prepared to be patient about starting opportunities, why he thanks Bournemouth and Eddie Howe. When you have grafted your way to Anfield from Dorchester Town, you take the journey step by step.

Even when playing golf he can be trying to improve his football. On tour in Asia, Ings found himself with Robbie Fowler at a driving range and used the time to grill Fowler about succeeding as a Liverpool striker.

THE LEARNING CURVE

I believe in my own ability and my philosophy is that even when I'm not playing the games, I'm still learning every day and becoming better.

DANNY INGS

"He gave me a lot of advice," Ings says. "If I can follow in any of his footsteps I'll be more than happy. He just said enjoy it. Go away, work hard, keep your head down. He said the fans will love my hard work because he sees I'm a hardworking player. And improve every day - and that's something I will always do."

His dad has regaled him about Fowler, Ian Rush and Kenny Dalglish, "the true legends of the club". Ings grew up idolising Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry.

The 11 goals he scored for Burnley in his maiden Premier League campaign took him to the edge of the England squad and when he chose Liverpool over Tottenham and Real Sociedad, there seemed a risk.

The other suitors offered easier playing chances. Might his progress stall? He was Burnley's "Alpha" player, whereas now he is in Liverpool's "B" group of strikers, behind Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge. And Rodgers is playing 4-3-3 and might use only one striker in many games.

But Ings says: "It's exciting. I like to look at other players and learn from them and there are all kinds of different players here and all kinds of different talents, so it's only a positive. Being at Burnley and playing every week felt great but I knew there was going to be a transition period here where I have to be patient, bide my time and work hard to become better, to hopefully get my chance.

"I believe in my own ability and my philosophy is that even when I'm not playing the games, I'm still learning every day and becoming better. I know the manager and staff here want players who want to learn, so I know this club suits me to the ground.

"It is important I don't get disappointed when I'm not starting. Liverpool might have close to 60 games, with the Europa League, so I'm hoping the manager will use all his squad. He needs players he can trust who, if they are not playing week in, week out, can go in and step up. That is what I am preparing for."

Southampton released him at 14. Bournemouth offered a second chance but injuries blighted his scholarship. Bournemouth manager Howe had a hunch and offered him a further three-month deal to prove himself and sent him on loan to Dorchester in the Conference South.

"Eddie Howe had a huge impact at the start of my career. He's a fantastic man," says Ings. "If it wasn't for that spell at Dorchester and my time in the lower leagues, I wouldn't be where I am now. When you do it that way, you appreciate everything a lot more."

He warns Liverpool will today face challengers with spirit and a particular Howe style.

"They get the ball moving and the tempo of their game," he says.

He partnered fellow new boy Roberto Firmino in a closed-door friendly last week and scored, while the Brazilian hit a hat-trick. Firmino could make his full debut against Bournemouth.

"He's fantastic, as you can imagine," says Ings. "Technically gifted, his knowledge of the game you can see a mile off. He's an exciting player I can learn from."

Learning: That obsession again.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Industrious Ings knows Howe far he has come'. Print Edition | Subscribe