DANNY Ings admits he is ‘extremely happy’ to have the chance to be the player local youngsters look up to – just like Matt Le Tissier was when he was growing up.

Saints fans have become accustomed to idolising players only for them to leave after just a few seasons – Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane and Virgil van Dijk are a few examples of that.

But Ings, who grew up in Southampton and made a return to the south coast this summer in an initial loan move from Liverpool, wants to buck that trend and be that man the fans can relate to long term.

“I think coming from here gives me a bond with the fans straight away and wearing the number nine shirt gives me that pressure and that responsibility for the whole place,” Ings, who has scored two goals in four appearances for the club so far, said.

“For me, it makes me extremely happy to be that guy that hopefully the youngsters around here look up to and hopefully I can entertain them every week and do well for the team.”

Ings was rejected by Saints as a ten-year-old for being too small but ended up breaking into the game at Bournemouth before playing for Burnley and Liverpool.

The 26-year-old’s loan move from Anfield will be made permanent next summer in a deal with worth around £16m.

The striker spent his childhood looking up to the legendary Le Tissier, who netted 209 goals 462 appearances for Saints, but was rarely able to see his idol in action.

“As a family we couldn’t really afford to go to games as a kid. We had a lot of stuff going on in our family when I was growing up, so it was quite difficult for us to get time to do it,” he said.

“There was a lot of responsibility for my dad and other people. It took us away from it but a lot of my friends went and I watched it on tele.”

A young Ings, who grew up playing football his dad, Shayne, at Netley Recreation Ground, caught a glimpse of Le Tiss whenever he could on the television.

“The guy was incredible. For me he had world class ability. What he brought to Southampton was exciting,” he said.

“Obviously I couldn’t be present for a lot of the games, but what I’d seen on TV and the goals he’d scored, I can’t imagine many players entertaining a crowd like he would.

“He’s definitely up there with the biggest guys I look up to from over the years.”

Le Tissier as well as Francis Benali and the likes of legendary manager Lawrie McMenemy have remained prominent figures in the local area after their time at Saints had ended.

Ings has a real affinity with the region and is keen to start laying down roots in the community, as those legends have done.

“Yes, for sure, I’ve always wanted to be a part of the community. I did it with Burnley with my disability project,” he said, talking about the Danny Ings Disability Sport Projects, which aims to create opportunities for disabled people in the Burnley community.

“I had my stuff going on up there and obviously I’ve just settled into the club, but hopefully once I’ve established myself, hopefully do as a well as I’m working to do, it’s something I want to bring here and bring to the community as well.”

Of course, being the local lad the fans can relate to comes with pressure.

He said: “Yes, of course it does. But for me I love pressure. If I’m not performing I like to be told I’m not performing and if I’m performing I like a pat on the back.

“It’s one of those, as long as I’m giving everything for the team and for everyone here, I know I’m doing the right thing for the club and for the fans as well.”

Ings has started the last three games for Saints, scoring twice in that time and he reckons he’s getting back to playing his natural game. Even if the fitness isn’t quite there yet.

“I would say so, yes, but I’ve got a lot of fitness to come yet, a lot more energy I can bring to the team, especially off the ball,” he said.

“I’m still finding my feet after a bit of a disturbed pre-season at Liverpool with a bad tackle that came into me.

“But I feel like I’m getting fitter and fitter each week and for me that’s important that each week I feel better than the last.

“If I can add goals and input to the team alongside that, for me, is very important.”