DANNY Ings hopes he has repaid the fans for a slow start to his Burnley career – as thoughts start to turn to the striker’s future.
Ings admits he has realised a dream to play in the Premier League after his 20 league goals this season helped the Clarets secure automatic promotion.
The 22-year-old’s contribution has earned the Championship player of the year award and seen him linked with a number of clubs, as he approaches the final year of his current Turf Moor contract.
Injuries restricted Ings to only six goals in his first two seasons with the club, but he vowed to prove why Burnley paid Bournemouth £1m to sign him in 2011. He believes he has done that now.
“The first two years were quite frustrating for me, but the fans and everybody stuck behind me and to repay them now is great,” he said.
“I said from day one as soon as I got those injuries that I would work as hard as I could in the gym to get back to where I should be, and it’s paid off now.
“It’s a fantastic achievement. It’s Premier League football, it’s everyone’s dream. To get there now with Burnley Football Club is a magnificent feeling.”
Burnley would have been in severe danger of losing Ings this summer had they not gone up, just as they lost Jay Rodriguez and Charlie Austin in previous years.
They would appear to have a better chance now of getting the forward to agree an extended deal at Turf Moor, although Ings was understandably not thinking about contracts so soon after the Clarets’ rise into the top flight.
“Let’s just let me enjoy this!” he said.
Clarets skipper Jason Shackell yesterday stressed the importance of hanging on to Ings, although he insisted he was not concerned about the forward’s future.
“I don’t think it’s a worry,” Shackell said. “He’s going to get attention from other clubs because he’s been fantastic this season and hopefully we can keep hold of him.
“He’s been a big part of what we’ve done this year and hopefully he can be a big part of what we can do next year. He’s a very talented young player.”
Burnley turned down Bournemouth’s bid to buy back Ings last summer – a decision that has worked out well for both club and player.
“It has,” Ings admitted. “Obviously I wasn’t being played at the time and it came down to what team the gaffer wanted to put out.
“But I took that on the chin, worked as hard as I could and then he gave me a chance. I’m really grateful for that. I’ve got a solid team behind me, which helped me pick up form. To be at the front of a team like that is a good feeling.”
Ings also paid tribute to the supporters who have roared Burnley on all season.
“They’ve been absolutely fantastic from start to finish,” he said.
“Before we were even in this position, from the start of the season until now they’ve been behind us and to do it for them is fantastic.
“People wrote us off because we’ve not got as good a squad as other teams but we’ve certainly got enough quality in our team and that mentality to go hard, and we got our rewards for it.”
Ings is looking forward to the chance to face Rodriguez when Burnley play Southampton next season, although his former Clarets team-mate is currently recovering from a serious knee injury.
“It will be good to play against him, he’s a top lad,” Ings said.
“Jay Rod and Charlie Austin are fantastic players with unbelievable ability, but me and Sam came in and worked as hard as we could for the team, and it paid off.