DANNY Ings has hailed ‘battering ram’ Shane Long’s contribution as the two strikers look to continue their flourishing relationship upfront against Brighton tonight.

The duo have played together in the last two games, spearheading Saints’ win at Crystal Palace two weeks’ ago, with Ings getting on the scoresheet to seal Mark Hughes’ side's first victory of the Premier League campaign.

Long has been nursing a slight niggle but hopes to be fit for tonight’s south coast showdown at St Mary’s and Ings will be pleased if the Irishman is fit, with the Liverpool loan man delighted with his partner’s displays.

“The last couple of games he’s almost been like a battering ram at times. He’s been fighting with defenders, he’s crazy in the air, winning headers, and his work rate is exceptional,” Ings said.

“Even with the goal, the run that he makes actually creates my goal [at Palace], so as a strike partner you appreciate that.

He added: “As a striker you learn things from different strikers and I think every striker we’ve got at the club brings something different and it all comes down to what the manager wants at that time.

“Longy has played the last couple of games alongside me and he’s worked his socks off, he really has. I haven’t seen his stats but I’m sure they’re through the roof the way he’s been running around winning headers.

“He’s created chances for himself too, he’s been unlucky with a few chances.

“For me, whoever I play up top with I try and adapt my game to work as a pair.”

Long has often struggled for goals, having scored just twice in 30 appearances last season, but Ings is keen to stress his importance to the team besides scoring.

Especially if Ings, who has netted twice in four appearances for Saints, keeps scoring, Long’s contribution as workhorse will be seen as very much worthwhile.

“He’s been in the right place at the right time. For strikers it can be difficult sometimes when the chances you get aren’t going in, but that’s perfectly natural for strikers,” Ings said.

“If you score every chance you’d be one of the best players in the world. There are not many of those around.

“What he brings to the team alongside that is just as important. His work rate, his effort. What he did against Palace was very good for the team. He won so many headers up there, held up the ball well and he made a really good disguised run for me for the goal I scored.

“As a striker in the modern day game I think you need a lot more than scoring goals now to maintain at this level and all the strikers at the club bring that.

“He works his socks off and credit to him for that because he’s extremely fit and I can’t wait to get fitter and fitter so I can run around like crazy for the team.”