Jurgen Klopp insists he is satisfied with Danny Ings’ performance in Saturday’s 0-0 Merseyside derby draw with Everton.
Goodison Park staged the striker’s first senior start for Liverpool in two-and-a-half years, with his last coming in the matching fixture in October 2015 – in which he scored.
Ings played alongside Dominic Solanke and Sadio Mane in an unfamiliar front three as Klopp adjusted his lineup with Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester City in mind.
The Englishman can be forgiven for not injecting the same explosiveness and conviction as the Reds’ familiar front three, with his lack of first-team minutes leaving him far from top form.
He did, however, offer the work ethic and pressing from the front that Klopp’s system has thrived on throughout the season.
Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s easy to judge it, it was not Danny Ings’ best game… that was the most importantly physical, the highest level he could play for ages and together with Dom [Solanke], they didn’t play together often so it’s not that they know exactly ‘when I go left, you go right’ or whatever, that’s all difficult.”
“We spoke of course about it but is it then settled? Of course not. I am completely happy. The job was to work hard and enjoy the game, really, and then get a result and they were like this.”
The start served as a deserved reward for the striker’s commitment for the U23s during the first half of the season and dedication behind-the-scenes since reintegrating with the senior team.
Ings made his Champions League debut as a substitute in Liverpool’s last 16 first leg against Porto, before producing a bright cameo in the recent 5-0 win over Watford.
With the uninterrupted time to return to form and full match fitness, Ings could prove a useful addition to the squad’s attacking strength in depth next season.