DANNY OUT TO BECOME SMILES BETTER
Loss of Austin brings a gap
CHARLIE Austin’s departure may have opened the door for Turf Moor’s forgotten man, but Danny Ings claims the memories of the past two seasons are still weighing heavy on his mind.
Ings was Bournemouth’s teenage sensation before joining his mentor Eddie Howe at Burnley in August 2011 for a fee in the region of £1m.
Seven goals in 22 league starts for the Cherries had Premier League clubs sniffing, but Howe had brought the best out of him during his first spell at Dean Court and Ings, at 19, didn’t fancy the big jump.
Austin had already been in Lancashire for six months and the plan was to unleash the two for an all-out assault on promotion back to the Premier League.
While Austin went on to score 45 goals in 90 appearances for the Clarets, Ings suffered a cartilage injury to his right knee during his first week at the club that ruled him out until February 2012.
To add insult to his considerable injury, Ings also fell victim to a similar setback on his left knee at the start of last season – Burnley’s final pre-season game against Rochdale. In all, the 21-year-old has amassed just 25 league starts, scoring seven goals, and following Austin’s £4m switch to QPR he claims it’s time he starting paying back his debt.
“The club have stuck by me, they have believed in me and given me all sorts of support and I feel I owe them a lot for that,” said Ings, who scored in Burnley’s 4-0 win against York in the Capital One Cup on Tuesday.
“After the hard luck that I have had I’ve made sure I’ve worked really hard to get back to where I am now, and it’s important that I build on this start.
“It was unfortunate the way they happened, on both knees it was just the way I turned, but you have to get over it.
“You do get down for a while, you get frustrated with what’s happened, especially the timing but there’s little you can do about it.
“I was gutted not to get off to a good start, it was even more disappointing because I was getting closer and closer at the start of last season, but hopefully this can be third time lucky for me.
“I’ve not played as a striker for the last couple of years when I have played, I’ve been out on the wing, in midfield or playing in the hole.
“It’s been a bit frustrating because I’ve always been a striker but there have always been top players at the club, like Jay Rodriguez or Charlie (Austin).
“Charlie is a great striker, he’s been our top scorer for the two few years and he’s someone who I have looked up to.
“Last season he was unstoppable, it was quite frightening actually and I was gutted to see him go. We had a really good partnership going in preseason. I’m disappointed we didn’t get to spend more time playing together.”
Ings commitment to the Burnley cause was put to the test before a ball had been kicked in anger this season when Howe, now back at Bournemouth, came in with a bid to take him back to the south coast.
That offer, around the same price Burnley forked out for his services, was given short shrift by boss Sean Dyche who, in turn, has given Ings the responsibility of filling the void left by Austin.
“Eddie is a top manager, and I also feel like I owe him a lot but at the time I didn’t get too involved in it (the offer), I just kept my head down and let my agents deal with it,” he added.
“My injuries happened when he was manager here, so I didn’t get to play a lot under him, but I’m not looking to move clubs, I’m just concentrating on getting back to enjoying myself.
“Last season I finished strongly, and I’ve started this season in the same way, and to be fair Sean (Dyche) has just told me to enjoy myself because he knows I can get frustrated.
“I just want to have a smile on my face when I’m playing again, at the moment I am happy and everything is going well.
“I’m not going to set myself any targets, I’m still at the stage where I’m taking it week by week, but anything is possible in football.”
TONGUE LASHING: Danny Ings gets on the score sheet last season