Ralph Hasenhuttl ‘positive’ over match-winner Danny Ings’ future at Southampton

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Ralph Hasenhuttl is “positive” Southampton can keep hold of star man Danny Ings following the striker’s clinical match-winning display against Crystal Palace.

Saints top scorer Ings celebrated his return from a two-game injury absence by scoring twice – including his 100th goal in club football – as Saints came from behind to beat the Eagles 3-1.

The England international, who had been sidelined with a hamstring problem, has a year remaining on his existing contract and has been repeatedly linked with a move away from St Mary’s.

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Manager Hasenhuttl admits Southampton are “a different side” when Ings plays and remains confident a new deal will be agreed.

“He knows that we want him to stay with us as long as he wants. For us, it’s important that he stays with us,” said Hasenhuttl.

“I am also positive that it will happen, maybe not now but maybe we will find in the next few months a chance to make this happen.

“With Danny we are a different side because he makes the chances we need to score and sometimes also goals when you don’t think there is a chance. The first goal was fantastic from him.

“And this is why he is important for us.”

Danny Ings, right, equalises against Crystal Palace
Danny Ings, right, equalises against Crystal Palace (Dan Mullan/PA)

Southampton’s fourth top-flight victory of a difficult 2021 moved them to 14th in the table, a point and a place behind their opponents.

Ings clinically found the bottom right corner in the 20th minute to make it a century of strikes across spells with Bournemouth, Burnley, Liverpool and Saints and cancel out Christian Benteke’s second-minute opener.

Palace captain Luka Milivojevic squandered the chance to restore the visitors’ advantage from a first-half penalty after Wilfried Zaha was fouled by Nathan Redmond, before Che Adams slid home and Ings poked past Vicente Guaita in in the second period to secure the comeback success.

Ings’ double gave a timely reminder to England boss Gareth Southgate ahead of this summer’s European Championship.

The 28-year-old – who has 12 Premier League goals for the campaign after hitting 22 last season – has struggled with a series of muscle injuries this term.

Ralph Hasenhuttl, left, congratulates his Southampton team after the win over Crystal Palace
Ralph Hasenhuttl, left, congratulates his Southampton team after the match (Glyn Kirk/PA)

Having initially feared Ings could miss the rest of the season with his most recent problem, Hasenhuttl feels fitness should not stop the player being an an option for the delayed Euro 2020.

Asked if Ings was England’s best finisher behind Harry Kane, Hasenhuttl replied: “It’s not on me to discuss this. I am happy that I have him and happy that he is so clinical.

“He had a tough season with a lot of injury problems, a lot of muscle problems.

“But his knee injury, from last October or September, is OK. He has no problems there.

“The muscle injuries he had this year were always a setback and it’s definitely amazing that he was so good coming back today – congrats on the rehab team, they made him quite sharp and (it is) good to have him back.”

Palace boss Roy Hodgson felt the game hinged on the eight-minute spell ether side of half-time when Southampton keeper Fraser Forster superbly kept out Milivojevic’s penalty and Adams put the hosts in front.

Che Adams, right, scores Southampton’s second goal
Che Adams, right, scores Southampton’s second goal (Andrew Boyers/PA)

“Obviously we’re not pleased with the result, that’s clear,” said Hodgson.

“I felt the game swung in those couple of minutes either side of half-time, we had the chance to come in to the interval two goals to one in the lead with the penalty but we didn’t take the chance and then as soon as the second half starts they score that goal from the corner kick.

“All of a sudden, instead of maybe looking to go out and control the game with a 2-1 lead, we were two goals to one down.

“We had chances to get that equaliser and towards the end of the game we took a chance to really go for it but, as so often happens, it just led to us opening ourselves out and giving them the chance to seal the victory.”