Steven Gerrard: Aston Villa’s Danny Ings is his worst critic

Aston Villa’s Danny Ings

Ings has scored just six goals since signing a £25m deal from Southampton last summer and recently described his debut campaign in burgundy and blue as “a little underwhelming”.

But Gerrard is happy with the striker’s contribution since taking charge in November and sees him as a big part of his future plans.

The boss acknowledged Ings suffered something of a stop-start year due to minor injuries and the arrival of his first child.

But he added: “As far as Danny Ings and what we think of him and how important he is to us, I don’t have to answer that question. I think it goes without saying.

“We love the kid, we love the player. He’s an integral part of our thoughts. When he shoots without those concerns and focuses on the game, he’s a big threat to Aston Villa. ‘has proved.

“By the end of the season, we want his quality and goals to put us in a better place in this league.”

Ings was due to be recalled to the starting XI for today’s game at Burnley, having secured last weekend’s win over Norwich. Despite a relatively low goalscoring return compared to previous seasons, the 29-year-old has netted more goals than any other Villa player.

Gerrard added: “I think he’s his worst critic. I certainly wouldn’t read too much into that. He certainly wasn’t disappointing for me.

“That’s not how I see it. But I think that sums up Danny. He’s very humble, very genuine and self-critical, that’s probably why he’s played at a good level all his career and why when he is there you see a great quality player.