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Suzanne Geldard Column: Ings ain’t what they used to be
THE return of Charlie Austin will be the major sub-plot to Saturday’s top of the table clash between the Clarets and QPR.
As such, comparisons will inevitably be drawn between the striker and former team-mate Danny Ings.
But given how technically different they are, is it fair to search for similarities, or otherwise?
Austin is a natural goalscorer in the mould of ‘Padiham Predator’ Andy Payton. Give him a chance within a 12-yard range and nine times out of 10 it will be put away.
That’s not to say Ings isn’t a natural in front of goal – with 11 from 15 league and cup games he is proving himself to be a fine finisher. But there are obvious contrasts in techniques.
Ings is more mobile and more likely to make a goal out of nothing. Austin is more likely to convert direct from a cross.
His heading ability is second-to-none. It’s an area of Ings’ game that he is working on, to good effect given the first of his two goals which knocked Nottingham Forest out of the Capital One Cup.
But where Austin was the focal point for the opposition last season (and to an extent their own given his form), Burnley have performed better collectively without him in the team and with Ings.
That may seem an incredible statement given that Austin ended last season with 28 goals.
But remember, for all his goals, the Clarets had their best run of results when he was sidelined in January.
Ings instantly numbed the shockwaves of Austin’s switch to Loftus Road on the eve of the current campaign, and a new partnership with Sam Vokes was allowed to blossom.
At the same stage last term, Austin had 18 goals, seven more than Ings. He goes into Saturday’s showdown on a run of five goals in the last four games, seven in total - four behind Ings.
They will enjoy going head-to-head on Saturday, and I expect Ings to come out on top.
But in the grand scheme of things, the only statistic that really matters to club and fans alike is the scoreline, and Ings would sacrifice personal goals for the good of the team.
And Burnley’s strength this season, is in the team.
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