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Had Euro 2020 not been cancelled, Danny Ings would have been perfect to lead the line for England

June 30, 2020

ENGLAND had a lot going for them heading into this summer’s European Championships. The 2018 World Cup saw a nation fall in love again with its national team as a new generation took its first step into the spotlight, but rather than being their peak there’s a sense that Gareth Southgate side’s run to the semi finals might prove to be the start of something bigger and better.

Looking back at the team that started the defeat to Croatia in Moscow two years ago, England look even stronger now. In the full back positions, Ben Chilwell and Trent Alexander-Arnold have emerged as world class options, with Jadon Sancho one of Europe’s brightest young attacking talents. 

Jack Grealish and James Maddison have filled a midfield void that was obvious in Russia, while Phil Foden is on the brink of becoming the player so many believed he always would be. Jordan Henderson, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling have all improved since 2018, while Dean Henderson could well be England’s next long-term goalkeeper. Plus, the best centre forward in the Premier League right now is English.

That centre forward is not Harry Kane, though, as it has been for the past few years. Nor is it Tammy Abraham, Callum Wilson or any of the other goalscorers recently involved in the England set up. Instead, Danny Ings is the best English striker at this present time, and the best striker in the Premier League generally. 

Ings is quite simply in the form of his life. He has hit the back of the net three times in the three games he has played for Southampton since the resumption of the 2019/20 campaign following the coronavirus shutdown, bringing his tally for the season to 18 Premeir League goals from just 32 appearances. Only Jamie Vardy has scored more in the division this season.

But while Vardy has faded over the spring and into the summer, Ings has only built more momentum. If the Euros were being played this summer as planned, the former Burnley and Liverpool striker would boast the strongest case to lead the line for England, especially with Abraham and Kane still struggling for form and fitness after injury.

Of all the players to have lost out due to the rescheduling of the Euros, Ings has perhaps lost the most. The 27-year-old almost certainly would have been included in Southgate’s squad and might even have been a first team figure for the start of the tournament. For a player who has suffered more than his fair share of misfortune, both in terms of injuries and his career choices, this summer should have a breakout moment.

Of course, it’s possible Ings will manage to sustain his form over the 2020/21 campaign and stake a claim for a place in the England team when the European Championships are eventually played next summer, but it seems unlikely that the pieces will fall into place for the Southampton striker as they have this season. Another year will give Abraham and Kane another chance to find top form.

This summer could still be a golden one for Ings, with the 27-year-old hunting down the Premier League Golden Boot. “Nobody will deny how important a player he is for us,” Ralph Hasenhuttl said after Ings’ brace against Watford on Sunday. “Everything is possible. We will play with him in the last six games, and if he gets a chance, you see how fantastic his finishing is. 

“He seems to be fitter than ever, he was hard working in shutdown [lockdown] and that gives him now fantastic physical options. It’s definitely a sort of outrageous quality he has and when we scores it is fantastic.” But not even finishing the season with a Golden Boot would compare to what Ings could have achieved with the Three Lions on his chest this summer.