(Reuters) - The Premier League's suspension because of the novel coronavirus pandemic gave Southampton's Danny Ings a much-needed rest and the chance to build up the fitness to mount a strong finish to the campaign, the striker has said.
Ings, who joined Saints in a permanent deal from Liverpool at the start of the season after spending the previous campaign on loan at the club, scored his 19th Premier League goal of the season in Thursday's 1-1 draw at Everton.
The 27-year-old's form dipped before the league was suspended in mid-March, with two goals in nine appearances in all competitions, but he has found the net four times in five league games since last month's restart.
"I feel like I'm fitter now than I was before the lockdown," Ings told the Southern Daily Echo. "I think coming back in better shape has been really positive for me because it's kept the consistency there.
"I want to keep building and I want to score as many goals as I can before the end of the season."
Ings's Liverpool career was derailed by a series of serious injuries, which limited him to 14 league appearances in three seasons.
He has blossomed under Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuettl this season, scoring 15 goals in a 17-match run across competitions from September to January.
"For me, goals are goals," Ings said. "Scoring is addictive and I always try to score as many as I can. It doesn't matter whether I've stolen the ball off (Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper) Hugo Lloris or I'm whipping it into the corner like I did against Watford."
Hasenhuettl said Ings, who suits Southampton's pressing style having played in a similar system under Juergen Klopp, offered more than a goal threat.
"Every week he works hard for the team," the Austrian said. "He knows how important he is for us."
(Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)