Gareth Southgate has plenty of decisions to make when it comes to selecting his England squad for this summer’s European Championships, and one of the biggest conundrums will come in attack.
Captain Harry Kane is the consensus starter, but behind him, the situation gets a little cloudy. At the minute, the role of deputy-in-chief seems to be Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s to lose, but Southampton’s Danny Ings is doing all he can to make it his.
Playing in a poor Saints side, Ings has showcased the ability to change his team’s fortunes single-handedly, and his showing in Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Burnley was emphatic evidence of that.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men were sinking early on. They were 2-0 down inside the first 30 minutes, but that’s when Ings exploded.
A delicious flick for James Ward-Prowse gave Southampton a lifeline, before Ings’ glorious solo run had the Saints level heading into the break. He then helped complete the turnaround with a shot that kick-started the move for Nathan Redmond’s eventual winner.
England don’t have too many strikers capable of that kind of impact. On his day, Kane can do it better than anyone on the planet, but when the Tottenham man isn’t firing, there aren’t many who can grab a game by the scruff of its neck and force a positive result.
Calvert-Lewin’s goals have dried up somewhat, while Ollie Watkins’ inclusion in the latest England squad raised a few eyebrows because of his recent dry spell in front of goal. Southgate may have to rethink his strategy.
A spot for Leeds’ Patrick Bamford would make sense, while adding Ings to that duo would give England some impressive firepower – good enough to rival most squads at this summer’s competition.
Ings’ club situation doesn’t exactly help him. Being part of a Southampton team who are yet to decide whether to join a relegation battle or not definitely works against the 28-year-old, but were it solely down to his performances, they would probably still be a top ten side.
Southgate must look beyond Southampton’s situation and take in what Ings is doing on an individual level. He’s a top class striker, and someone who could really make a difference in an England side often starved of enthusiasm in the final third.