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Danny Ings and the Power of the Mind

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The Liverpool striker may be ruled out for the season but is determined to return to impress new manager Jürgen Klopp.

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Sometimes one wonders about the fortitude of those who have overcome adversity or questions the importance of the set of cognitive faculties that enable dreams to come true. In sport, there have been countless examples of those who have reached unexplored peaks through a dizzying combination of talent and exacting standards, while others have enhanced a modest pool of abilities to become key figures when it should not be so. Cautionary tales exist too, ones where the mind lets down extraordinary skills that various individuals have fitfully displayed over the past century.

As Liverpool harried and successfully pressed in unison and coherence during the opening quarter of an hour at White Hart Lane, my mind darted to Danny Ings—wouldn't he have been at home under Liverpool's charismatic new manager with his directness, movement, and appetite for perspiration? This was a player I had kindly dismissed earlier in the year as another potential transfer failure, however that assessment was refuted on a miserable day at Anfield as the Kop saluted Ings after a performance full of genuine endeavour and productivity against lowly Carlisle United. When others struggled to raise their respective games or fight through a despondent atmosphere, Ings fought and scored as if some form of permanent redemption was on offer.

Two league goals in 314 minutes along with a zest for competing illustrated the promise and suitability within Ings for a new era under Jürgen Klopp. Even though Ings is out for the season, would anyone want Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini, or Mario Balotelli in his place? It's clear that Ings is prepared to work extremely hard to contribute at Liverpool, and injury has not dented his appetite for work. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph—one that's worth reading in full—it's clear that Ings understands the power of the mind like many successful athletes in the past.

"I am experienced enough in my career to know it is not the end," he said on his knee injury. "It is a setback and, yes, I was playing and I was starting for Liverpool sooner than I expected, which was great. Making my England debut was a massive achievement.

"These things do happen and it can be cruel but for me it is part of the game and this is when footballers really, really earn their money. To go in earlier than everyone else and come home later than everyone else. To work as hard as you can and come back better. I have always done that. Any injury I have had, I have come back stronger. Especially mentally strong and it makes me appreciate the job I do when things like this happen."

That was impressive enough, but seemed quite expected from any professional. It was his take on the new manager's presence as well as Ings' role in the squad during his rehabilitation from injury that was particularly commendable. Previous interviews and comments from the player have underlined his suitability for a club like Liverpool with focus, dedication, level-headedness, and a fiercely competitive spirit all part of the player's mental landscape. Those impressions seemed hard to falsely manufacture for the benefit of journalists, which bode well for fans of industrious forward.

"As modern-day professionals it all comes down to how you perform on the pitch," the 23-year-old said plainly. "But you can’t perform on the pitch unless you are doing all the stuff off it in the correct manner, especially at this level. The only way I can get in his [Klopp’s] thoughts and show him what a good professional I am is the way I am in the gym or by being positive around the lads. Sometimes negativity can rub off on players and I don’t want to affect their performance. When you are injured you have to keep a positive mindset and keep moving forward.

"I feel better than I expected to feel and that might come from the fact I have had previous injuries that have been quite lengthy before or it might just be the fact I made my debut for England and I was playing all the recent games for Liverpool. I think it is important not to get too down. There will be a few down days when I am not feeling myself and I am gutted I cannot be out with the team. But I am trying to stay as positive as I can be."

Danny Ings will be back, and in a short period of time, the former Burnley striker made enough of an impression for many Liverpool fans to eagerly await his return. Don't be surprised if Klopp follows the Kop when it comes to appreciating the England international. After all, he might very well be the spiritual successor to Dirk Kuyt.