Ralph Hasenhuttl says prolific Southampton top scorer Danny Ings is reaping the rewards of “working his ass off”.
Striker Ings scored for the fourth successive Premier League match to help Saints move out of the relegation zone with Wednesday’s 2-1 win over fellow strugglers Norwich.
The 27-year-old, whose loan from Liverpool was made permanent in the summer for a reported £20million, has already registered 10 goals in all competitions this term, more than he managed in the previous three injury-disrupted seasons combined.
Southampton boss Hasenhuttl praised the endeavour of the one-cap England international and challenged him to maintain his red-hot form.
“This is the result of a guy who is working his ass off. This is exactly how it should be and he’s absolutely positive all the time,” said the Austrian.
“You can feel and you can see how much he invests to win balls, to work for the team, and in the last games he has a fantastic run and hopefully it stays on.”
Ings made it 10 goals in his last nine appearances by heading home James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick in the 22nd minute against the Canaries.
In doing so, he became the first Saints player to score in four consecutive appearances since Jay Rodriguez in 2014.
Ings and creative midfielder Ward-Prowse had been responsible for the south coast club’s previous 11 league goals, a statistic which was ended when Ryan Bertrand volleyed home to double the lead just before the break.
Sloppy defending from Saints, who had halted an eight-game winless league run by beating bottom club Watford on Saturday, allowed Norwich striker Teemu Pukki to pull one back but they held on for another precious three points to move above Everton and into 17th place.
Hasenhuttl, who on Thursday celebrates a year in charge at St Mary’s, believes his players have learnt a lot during the club’s recent slump, which included a 9-0 hammering by Leicester.
“We went through very, very good periods taking a lot of points and we also had periods where were really struggling,” said the 52-year-old, who succeeded Mark Hughes last December.
“Development not only goes in one direction – sometimes there comes a valley that you have to walk through.
“And I think the experience we made in the last weeks was massive for them and now we know what is really important for our game.
“We will not stop talking about that, showing them, demanding what we need to have for winning games.”
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