Danny Ings is relishing the prospect of his first Merseyside derby, saying he will “have fire in his belly” trying to help Liverpool win.
The 23-year-old Liverpool striker has experienced the Lancashire hot-bed of Burnley versus Blackburn but concedes Sunday’s match at Goodison Park will be on another level entirely.
Ings is ready for the challenge after admitting the rivalry associated with derbies just gives him an extra level of motivation.
“I have played in derby games before but I don’t think anything as special as this one,” he said.
“If I do get the nod to play then I’ll be over the moon and excited to get out there.
“Burnley-Blackburn was quite fierce. Going to Ewood Park was extremely tough but we got the win there after, I think, 35 years so that was a special moment for Burnley at the time.
“It meant a lot to me and the fans so hopefully we can do it for the fans and ourselves on Sunday.
“It gives me fire in my belly when you have fans screaming at you and not in a nice way.
“But our fans here are unbelievable and I am sure they will get behind us.”
Since arriving from Turf Moor in the summer Ings has been one of the few bright spots of a stuttering season for Liverpool.
He scored in back-to-back games late last month with his maiden goal for the club just three minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute against Norwich to and then followed that up with one against Carlisle.
But it is not just his goalscoring which has already endeared him to fans but his all-action, no-nonsense approach to every minute he plays.
That has been in contrast to the general performance of the team and Thursday’s disappointing 1-1 Europa League draw with Sion – where he was one of just three outfield players likely to keep his place – was less than ideal preparation for the derby.
But Ings stressed that game would have no bearing on Sunday.
“It is all about the day,” he said.
“You can’t take into account previous games going into that.
“These are great occasions, occasions that players like me fight for throughout my career, so it is extremely exciting for everyone involved.”
Ings is likely to get the chance to again team up with Daniel Sturridge, rested in midweek, at Goodison after combining well on their first start together last weekend if Christian Benteke is not fit enough to return after a hamstring injury.
Ings was this week named in the England squad for the first time while Sturridge, after just 152 minutes’ action since early April, was given more time to get up to speed.
It will be his form, however, which is most closely tied to his club’s fortunes this season as his two goals against Villa highlighted.
Rodgers on Sturridge
“You saw his quality in the game last week. He is obviously at a high level in his ability to score a goal and he is important for us,” said manager Brendan Rodgers.
“We have missed him over a long period of time but what I think top players do is give the team is confidence.
“When you know you have that level of player in your team then it helps the rest of the team.
“Him coming back into the reckoning for the weekend is a massive boost for us and when he plays you know he has that star quality.
“You want the goals to be attributed around the team but when you have a goalscorer of that quality he gives confidence to other players and creates space and possibilities for others.”
It places rather a large responsibility on Sturridge but his manager believes that will bring the best out of the 26-year-old.
“I think he would want that. I never put pressure on players to get goals but he is a natural finisher and he wants to get goals,” he added.
“I look over the period of time he was out and our goalscoring record would be greater if he was fit and playing.”
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