Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has opened up on the prospect of coming up against Southampton hot-shot and former teammate Danny Ings when the two players meet at Anfield on Saturday.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 25: Danny Ings of Southampton during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur at St. Mary’s Stadium on January 25, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)

It will mark the first occasion that the former Reds striker will return to the home of the European champions since 2018 after Ings completed a £20m [BBC Sport] move to Saint Mary’s.

Ings, 27, has been in inspiring under Ralph Hassenhuttl this season and has been pivotal in the club’s recent change of fortunes in the league table. The former Burnley star has an impressive 16 goals across all competitions so far – including 14 in the league.

The Englishman made just 25 appearances for Liverpool during a three-year spell with the club. Ings’ time at Anfield was hampered due to two long-term ACL injuries that kept the forward out of action for just under two years.

Ings was a largely popular figure amongst players and staff alike at Melwood and will, undoubtedly, receive a warm welcome back to L4 on Saturday afternoon.

Not least from his former skipper and fellow countryman Henderson, though the midfielder is eager to shut-out a player he believes to be one of the finest centre-forwards in Europe.

“Ingzhi was only ever a nice guy off the pitch. On the pitch he was ‘horrible’ in the best sense of the word from a footballing perspective: wouldn’t give you a second to breathe on the ball, always snapping away to try and win the ball back, constantly offering and always a threat.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Henderson said:“What can I say about Danny Ings? Well, firstly I hope he has a stinker today, but I know it’s highly unlikely.

“When Southampton came to Anfield last season Danny wasn’t eligible to play because his first season at St Mary’s was a loan. It’s different this time around, now the move is officially permanent. It means today we all have to cope with trying to stop one of the most dangerous centre-forwards in the Premier League.

“To say those of us who shared a dressing room with him here at Liverpool are buzzing to see how he’s doing this season is an understatement.

 

“Ingzhi was so popular with everyone at Melwood. He’s one of those people who’d brighten up any room with his positivity. Incredibly funny, always warm, never short of a smile.

“Everyone knows his story with us and how a couple of major setbacks played a part in robbing us of more minutes of Ingzhi on the pitch. But those setbacks didn’t diminish his contribution overall.

“How he conducted himself, the attitude he showed, his desire and his professionalism was genuinely inspiring. It made an impact on a lot of us and still does. But focusing on personality and character does a massive disservice to his greatest asset – his ability.

“Ingzhi was only ever a nice guy off the pitch. On the pitch he was ‘horrible’ in the best sense of the word from a footballing perspective: wouldn’t give you a second to breathe on the ball, always snapping away to try and win the ball back, constantly offering and always a threat.

“I go back to what I said right at the beginning and I hope after the match today I’m telling him “hard luck.” But we’ll also be telling him that we’re all made up to see him doing what he does best.

“The fact he’s getting the recognition he deserves as one of the best centre-forwards, in one of Europe’s best leagues, is reward for all the hard work he’s put in for a very, very long time.”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 28: Danny Ings during a Southampton FC training session at the Staplewood Campus on January 28, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)

What RTK has to say

Ings’ revival this season is one of the great success stories of the season. His gargantuan rise back to the pinnacle of top-flight football is testament to the player’s unwavering mentality.

He is in the best form of his career currently and hasn’t been as devestating in front of goal since his inaugural PL season with Burnley where he clocked up 11 goals and four assists back in 2014/15 forcing Liverpool to take action and sign the striker.

Though he still wouldn’t be a regular starter in the Reds’ irreplaceable front-three triumvirate, Ings certainly will have enough quality to throw a spanner in the works at his former home on the weekend.

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