THE man who knows Danny Ings best believes the best is yet to come from his gifted son.

Self-employed bricklayer Shane Ings, from Netley Abbey, laid the foundations for the Saints striker’s career on Netley Recreation Ground.

He is confident the best years of his son’s career are ahead of him as he prepares to return to the club where his professional career began.

Other than Danny himself, no-one was happier than the striker’s parents, Shane and step-mum Sue, when he completed his move from Liverpool on transfer deadline day.

They have seen him thrive at St Mary’s after an injury-ravaged, three-year spell at Anfield and will both be at AFC Bournemouth on Saturday.

Fittingly, the short trip to the Vitality Stadium, where Ings was based for three years after signing as a 15 year-old, will be the first away game they have been to since Danny’s return to the south coast.

“He’s got more in his locker, he’s still got to get his fitness back, he’s still only 80 or 90 per cent at the moment,” says 52 year-old Shane, who did not think his son would play again after the worst of his two knee injuries.

“He’s still got a picture of it - it was awful. Two years of injuries and a year of trying to get back in the team was horrendous for him.

“But I never gave up and told him not to. He didn’t. When he was coming back from one he swam the equivalent of the channel with his arms only. Liverpool loved him for that.

“I’m pleased for him, he’s just moved into a new house and is absolutely buzzing about being back down here.

“It makes such a difference being wanted and knowing you’re a key player.”

A former Queens Keep FC captain and Vosper Thornycroft winger who also played veterans football until he was 40, Shane lives and breathes the game.

“Normally the chance Danny had against Chelsea would have gone in,” he continues. “He was celebrating before he shinned it.

“When he’s fully fit he scores from half-chances so he’s really looking forward to performing properly.

“You can’t judge Dan on a few games. He played three in ten days [before the international break] and hasn’t done that for three years. He’s found it hard. He was lying on our sofa shattered the other day.

“This is only the start, I know there’s more there. I know what he can do.

“I just hope he stays injury free.”

Ings only spent a season in AFC Bournemouth’s first team but his time there as a schoolboy was the making of him. He was in the Saints development centre to start with but they thought he was too small,” says Shane.

“He was also really, really gutted when Chelsea turned him down not long afterwards. But he’s shown that size is no guarantee of anything. That’s why our favourite player is Sergio Aguero. You can’t teach what he does. Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser is another good example.

“It’s all about technical ability and anticipation. I always told Dan to look two seconds into the future because thinking half a second ahead can give you a couple of yards.

“He can see a pass others can’t, his peripheral vision is good which is why he can play as a number ten. He learnt a lot when I took his team to Kickers in Eastleigh, it was brilliant for their technical ability as they had to shift the ball with both feet.”

Shane coached Danny’s Tyro League team, Itchen, throughout the age groups, from U7 to U15.

“When I did my coaching badges I met a guy called Dean May running the U15s at Bournemouth,” explains Shane.

“He was looking for a striker so I said I had a decent nipper. ‘How many does he get a season?’ asked Dean. ‘Quite a lot’, I said!

“So Bournemouth invited him down for a weekend trial.

“That would usually be followed by a 16-week academy trial if they impressed, but they signed him on the Sunday.

“He left home at 15 to go down there and had digs in New Milton with a really nice couple and a scholarship to Brockenhurst College.

“He knows what it’s like to have no money because we could only afford to give him £40 a week to manage on.

“We had him back at the weekend. Sue would take him down to Bournemouth but the petrol cost a lot so we’d often run out!

“It’s been a hell of a journey. He’s sacrificed a lot.

“He’d be taken out of school for a game up north and at that age his mates would be out with girls and drinking.

“But he’d be in bed at 10pm. He’s always been really well disciplined and self-motivated.

“Football is all he wanted to do. He wasn’t academic so when he was 15 he tried working with me.

“I thought we’d show him what real work was like so he was bumping bricks out for two days! It wasn’t for him.”

As a 15 year-old Ings thrived under the tutelage of Joe Roach, who has been Bournemouth’s academy manager for the last five years, having spent a decade as youth team coach before leaving in 2011.

A four-goal, nine-match loan spell at Conference South Dorchester Town in 2010 is also fondly remembered as a key period in Danny’s development.

“We’ve got a lot to thank Joe and Eddie Howe for,” continues Shane, who borrowed Cherries training drills to improve his U15 team.

“We’ve got the shirt of every team he’s played for, including Dorchester, who were great for him.

“He was only 17 then and you could see a vast difference between their U18s and the first team there when he made the step up.

“It toughened him up just like it did when he was playing with 16 year-olds as a 12 year-old on Netley Rec.”

Danny scored eight goals in 24 starts for AFC Bournemouth in League One in 2010/11.

“He was a fresh-faced 18 year-old that season and he had to show them he was more than that,” says Shane.

“He took his opportunity by the horns.

“Steve Fletcher was still playing as their target man and he settled in really well alongside him.”

Danny’s Bournemouth career ended with defeat on penalties to Huddersfield in the 2011 League One play off semi-final, having headed the Cherries into a 3-2 lead in extra time.

Eddie Howe took him to Burnley for £1m, having left the Cherries for Turf Moor in January 2011, later that summer.

“It was a troubling time when Bournemouth were struggling financially, but Danny was the first million-pound player to leave Bournemouth and that goes down to Joe, Eddie and his age-group coach, another really nice guy,” added Shane.

“Joe took it on the chin when he was let go but he’s back again and we’re looking forward to going back.

"We follow all the clubs Danny’s been to. He was still only a boy when he left for Burnley and was a [87th-minute]sub in his only game there for Liverpool so it will be special to go back with Saints.”