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Why Danny Ings Should Be in the England Squad for Euro 2020

Why Danny Ings Should Be in the England Squad for Euro 2020

Monday, 20 January, 2020 - 06:45
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Southampton v Crystal Palace - St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, Britain - December 28, 2019 Southampton's Danny Ings celebrates scoring their first goal with Moussa Djenepo REUTERS/Ian Walton
London - Martin Laurence
Tottenham supporters are understandably worried about Harry Kane’s injury and José Mourinho’s claim that the striker may not play again this season is also a concern for England fans. Kane suffered a hamstring injury on New Year’s Day and the Spurs boss seems uncertain about when he will return. “We expect him to be out until mid-April, end of April, May, next season, I don’t know,” said Mourinho earlier this week.

It would be a huge surprise if Kane were sidelined for that long but, the longer he is out of action, the more concerns there will be about his fitness for the Euros. Luckily for Gareth Southgate, however, he has real competition to Kane from a number of in-form forwards right now. No more so than Danny Ings.

The Southampton striker has suffered more than his fair share of injuries throughout his career, but he has avoided any problems so far this season and is flourishing. Ings scored his 14th league goal of the season at the weekend as Southampton beat Leicester at the King Power Stadium, avenging their humiliating 9-0 home defeat earlier in the campaign.

Ings was substituted at half time in that game at St Mary’s as Ralph Hasenhüttl tried in vain to keep the scoreline down. The decision to sacrifice the striker made some sense, but Ings was in sensational form even back then. He had just scored in four straight games for Southampton, forcing his way back into the starting XI.

It is worth remembering that Ings was far from assured of a starting place when the season began. Southampton had signed Che Adams for £15m in the summer to give them more options in attack. It also gave Ings a point to prove and boy has he proven it. Adams has not scored yet for Southampton, whereas Ings is in the form of his life.

The frequency with which the 27-year-old has found the net – for a team that was in the relegation zone until recently – is nothing short of remarkable. Ings has scored in more games this season than any other player in the league. He has been on the scoresheet in 13 of his 18 matches this season. Even Jamie Vardy – who is leading the race for the Golden Boot – has only scored in 12. While other strikers have tended to score in fits and starts, Ings has been extremely consistent. Even though he has been very prolific, he has only scored one brace all season.

His consistency has been phenomenal in the last few months. He has scored in 13 of the last 16 matches he has started. His three games without a goal were the aforementioned defeat to Leicester (when he was taken off at half time), a game at Manchester City (when Southampton scored early, tried to protect their lead and substituted him after City equalised) and a game against his bogey team West Ham (Ings has faced the Hammers seven times without ever finding the net).

Ings is not just a flat-track bully. He has scored against eight of the 11 teams that sit above Southampton in the table, including Leicester, Tottenham (twice), Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool. The fact that Southampton are now level on points with Arsenal and Everton, having been in the relegation zone this time last month, owes a great deal to their in-form frontman. Unlike any other player in the league, Ings has scored more than half of his team’s goals this season (14 of 27).

At this stage it would be pretty ludicrous if he were not in the England squad for Euro 2020 – even if Kane is fully fit by then. Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham are both enjoying brilliant campaigns – Rashford has scored 14 league goals and Abraham has scored 13 – but they are playing in better teams and are not as consistent. Whereas Ings has only failed to score in six league starts this season, Rashford and Abraham have drawn 11 blanks each. This isn’t a criticism of either player. Both are enjoying breakthrough seasons of sorts and deserve huge credit, but Ings’ stunning strike rate – in an inferior side – is inescapable.

There is room for four strikers in Southgate’s squad this summer. Callum Wilson has made the cut recently but, if he is the competition for Ings, there is simply no contest. The Bournemouth striker is struggling with a crisis of confidence right now. When Wilson scored his fifth goal of the campaign back in September, he was three clear of Ings in the scoring charts. He is now nine behind. Wilson has not scored at all in the league since then and he has not even hit a shot on target in more than 1,000 minutes of Premier League action.

Were Southgate to opt for four strikers – with Rashford more likely to play from wide – Dominic Calvert-Lewin is probably the only realistic challenger for Ings right now. The Everton striker has scored eight goals in the league this season – already the best return of his career – but, having scored in just six games in the campaign, he cannot compare to Ings’ current quality in front of goal.

It has been a long and often painful slog reach this point of his career, but Ings is finally fit, at the top of his game and undeniably worthy of international recognition.

The Guardian Sport

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