Danny Ings details gruelling fitness regime which is fuelling Golden Boot bid

Danny Ings is enjoying the best form of his career and making goalscoring look easy.

And it’s all down to a ­gruelling regime he has ­imposed upon himself in his bid to thrive in the top flight.

Ings, who spent last ­summer slavishly following a personal fitness programme, took up pilates during ­lockdown, and closely studies opponents in a search for weaknesses.

The Southampton forward, in contention for the Golden Boot, now feels like he will score every time he steps onto the pitch

“Once you get a goal or two then things just flow, you find yourself in good positions and, as a striker, it’s always ­important to believe you can score,” said the 27-year-old, who has 19 Premier League goals this season.

“When you have that ­confidence, you don’t have to think too much because naturally you will get yourself in the positions to score.

"Even when you don’t score, the fact you’re getting into ­positions gives you great confidence going into the next game and the game after that. I think I’m playing the best football of my career at the moment.

"It’s been a very up-and-down season but to be able to maintain goalscoring form throughout those ups and downs is a great feeling.”

Ings’s season actually began last summer.

After just one week’s holiday, he went away with his best friend, former Bournemouth team-mate turned personal trainer Alex Parsons, to do a fitness ­programme which continued into pre-season with the club.

Ings practised pilates during lockdown and, helped by Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl’s ­demanding training schedules and detailed research on ­opponents, he feels he has the ­beating of any defender.

He said: “Having a full pre-season and doing extra work in the off-season really helped me.

"Then it’s down to you to do your homework, research other teams, look at how they play, to give yourself the best chance to score goals.

“The club have a pilates teacher so I spent a bit of time with her and, during ­lockdown, I did as much as I could because you couldn’t leave the house and I didn’t want to just sit on the sofa. I feel great.”

Ings cannot bear to ­mention the 9-0 defeat by Leicester in October but says that the way Saints, who visit Manchester United tonight, have turned it around is testament to their team spirit and boss ­Hasenhuttl’s enthusiasm.

“You can see his energy, his passion to win games, and you can see it oozing into the players,” he said. “Without fans in the ­stadium, having such a vocal ­manager can ­really help.

“It’s been a crazy season for us but, as it has gone on, we’ve grown stronger.”

Ings is desperate to get back into the England set-up – his only senior cap came in 2015.

“I’m going to do everything I can to keep getting better for my club and, if that opens the door to be in the environment with the top players in the country, then the hard work would have paid off,” he said.

“All you can do as a player is give yourself the best chance – and that’s by ­improving.”

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