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Danny Ings Reflects on Long Way Back

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The Liverpool striker is careful not to put too much pressure on himself too soon.

Derby County v Liverpool - EFL Cup Third Round Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

This mortal husk of flesh in which we exist is such a fragile nuisance, isn’t it. One day, you’re playing for your dream club having engineered a move through a combination of public hissy fits and secret backroom dealings, and the next you’re looking at a four-month lay-off, limping off the pitch having separated your hamstring tendon from the bone. Terrible.

Statistically, the majority of people reading this article have suffered some sort of injury, with knee, shoulder, and lower back being the most common problem areas. And while it can be a tremendous physical and emotional burden, it typically doesn’t mean the end of your professional employment. Athletes put themselves at risk of physical injury more consistently than most people on the planet, at potentially career-ending risk. Thus, it is galling to see players who struggle to stay healthy receive abuse from their supposed fans when their bodies betray them, as has too frequently been the case with Daniel Sturridge, for instance.

Danny Ings has received little of this sort of invective — one can speculate as to why that is — and has faced a more forgiving and supportive atmosphere than some of his colleagues. Joining Liverpool from Burnley after his contract ran out in 2015, the Englishman managed 500 minutes of football for his new club before rupturing a cruciate ligament in his knee. Instantly ruled out for the season, he made his victorious return in the final game, setting his sights on a proper restart the following year. 49 minutes of footballing action later, he required another round of surgery on his knee, taking his total of missed matches due to injury to 85 in two seasons.

It’s been a long way back, is the point, and the 25-year old admitted to mixed emotions after his return to first team action in the 2-0 EFL Cup defeat to Leicester on Tuesday night.

“It was mixed emotions really,” the once-capped England international told the club’s official site after the game. “You want to get the win and you want it to be the perfect night, getting minutes after the long road to recovery, but it wasn’t our night in the end.

“But on a personal note, it’s great to be back part of it, being around the lads and getting used to travelling away. It was good to be back and hopefully I can build on that. Even though it was such a short spell on the pitch and we didn’t get the result, it was a positive in the steps I’m taking on a personal level.”

The striker added: “It’s such a serious injury so you’ve got to take it day by day without setting too high expectations at this stage. It’s about getting fit and getting to the best that I can be.

“Once I feel like I’m at my best again, I’ll build on that. I think last year I probably put a bit too much pressure on myself to try and impress everybody straight away when I knew it was going to be a difficult road after overcoming a serious injury.

“This time, I want to do as well as I can for the team, for the club – but I’ve got to make sure I’m focused on getting in the best shape I can be in order to do so.”

Knowing whether Ingsy was of sufficient quality to make it as a Liverpool player long-term was difficult when he arrived; after the better part of two years out with devastating injuries, it’s impossible to say how much he can contribute. What is certain, however, is that it was good to see the #28 back on the pitch after all this time — his new-look barnet perhaps not included — and that everybody associated with the club wishes him all the best in his continued recovery and career.