Ralph Hasenhuttl urges Danny Ings to forget England and focus on Southampton

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Jim van Wijk, PA
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Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has challenged Danny Ings to focus on helping the team achieve a successful end to the season rather than worrying about making it to Euro 2020 this summer.

Ings marked his return from a recent injury lay-off to inspire Saints’ fightback from 2-0 down to beat Burnley 3-2 last weekend.

The 28-year-old former Liverpool frontman has not featured for England since the friendly against Wales during October 2020.

Ings is one of several players hoping to force their way back into Gareth Southgate’s summer plans by finding form over the closing weeks of the domestic campaign.

For Southampton, who head to relegation-battlers West Brom on Monday night, that could yet end in making the FA Cup final if they can get past Leicester at Wembley on April 18.

Hasenhuttl, though, maintains it should all be about the here and now for Ings, who has nine league goals this season.

“This is always my job, to bring the best out of every player,” the Saints boss said.

“If he has a (place in the) Euros or not, he is part of this club.

“He has a contract with this club, so that contract means he has to do everything and just to help us, this is the deal we made.

“I don’t care about the mentality for the Euros, this is something like a bonus for him.

“The most important thing is that he helps us win games, that he helps us in climbing the table and that he helps us maybe come into the FA Cup final.

“This is the deal we have with him, and so long as he is here, he tries to give his part to this deal and we give our part of the deal.

“We offer him everything that is possible to make him better – and this is how it should be with every player.”

But Hasenhuttl feels Ings has all the qualities needed to make Southgate’s final 23-man cut.

“Ingsy is definitely one of them (players in contention) and when he is fit, when he plays well and when he scores, then he must be part of this (England squad),” the Saints boss said.

“But he has to stay fit and go in the battle, and then he has a chance I think.”

Hasenhuttl accepts the form of Ings has been directly linked to that of the team.

“This is not such a big secret that he is important for our game, definitely,” said the Southampton manager, who saw his side plummet down the league table in 2021 after an extended losing streak.

“He is even more important when he is fit and can run and do the job that he did in the last game.

“Then he has the quality to score, then he has the quality to prepare chances and I think this is what we missed, definitely.”

Hasenhuttl added: “It is also good that with Che (Adams) and with also Reddy (Nathan Redmond) now in better shape we have something like a battle for the two positions in front.

“This is good because everybody knows, ‘when I don’t perform well, then maybe I lose my spot or my position in the first XI’.

“This is always the best way to push for better performances.”