Liverpool U23s manager Neil Critchley has hailed the “big influence” of Danny Ings as the striker works his way back to fitness and sharpness.
Ings suffered his second serious knee injury in as many seasons last term, ensuring a layoff that kept him out of action for 10 months.
But the 25-year-old has now returned to the fold, turning out for the Reds’ U23s side on three occasions so far in 2017/18, scoring in August’s 2-0 win away to Swansea City.
His most recent outing came against Arsenal at Boreham Wood, playing his first full 90 minutes since being sidelined last October.
Assessing Ings’ performance in that 2-1 victory, Critchley praised his work ethic, and the example he sets his younger team-mates.
“What summed up his performance for us was in the 93rd minute of the game he was back in the left-back position making tackles and winning free-kicks for us,” he told LiverpoolFC.com.
“That sums Danny up as a person and as a footballer.
“He integrates brilliantly with the staff and the players and he sees himself as part of the team, and you can feel that. He is a big influence on the young players around him.
“Don’t forget, Danny is still only 25 himself so he has got a lot of years left in the game. But he does take on that senior role and he is very good at it.”
Ultimately, however, Ings will be targeting a first-team role, having stayed with the Reds amid rumours of a loan move at the end of the summer transfer window.
Ings failed to feature for Jurgen Klopp‘s side throughout pre-season, despite travelling with the squad to Munich for the Audi Cup, but is clearly part of the German’s plans this season.
Critchley believes it is only a matter of time before Ings recaptures the spark required to perform at senior level.
“He has had a torrid time through injuries but he has been a pleasure to be around in the short time I’ve had in his company,” he added.
“He has gradually built up his fitness, built up his minutes and the more he plays the more confident and sharper he will become.
“He had one or two opportunities at Arsenal that I think in a few weeks’ time he will put away.”