NOT only content with shining on the pitch Danny Ings is also building a second career off of it.

The Saints striker has enlisted in an eight-week property management course to make sure he has plans for life after professional football.

His father, Shayne Ings, a self-employed bricklayer from Netley Abbey, helped lay the foundations in this field of work when his son was just a teenager.

Not the biggest fan of school, Saints’ striker went to work with his dad once as a 13-year-old but ended up quitting after growing bored of making tea.

But he’s now leaning on Shayne to help him navigate his way through the property management course.

“I’m trying to learn something with my spare time,” said Ings, who also is teaching himself to play the guitar. “My dad’s a builder and I’ve got a family full of builders so it’s probably something I’ll go into once I’ve finished football.

“I wasn’t the best at school, so I’m finding it quite difficult. But I’m learning a lot and trying to prepare for the future.

“I worked with my dad on site when I was about 13.

“He took me out once and I think I lasted about two hours – I got fed up of making his cups tea and him moaning about it!

“Now it’s just solely advice and asking him where I can go with it.”

When you consider the injuries Saints’ star man has had to contend with, it’s no surprise he is already preparing for a life away from football.

It was during his injury-ravaged spell at Liverpool that he realised a career as a Premier League footballer can have a short shelf life.

“I’ve had serious injuries in my career and that was the moment I wanted to look to the future and to make sure it was as secure as it could possibly be,” Ings told the Daily Echo.

“At the moment doing that course and trying to learn from my family is where I’m at.”

Luckily for Saints, Ings is a good few years away from retiring and, before the season was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, is having one of his best seasons to date.

His form in front of goal has fired Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side away from danger and seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Had the England games not been cancelled at the end of the month, the 27-year-old looked to be nailed on for an international call-up.

Although his 15 Premier League goals look impressive, had he not been consigned to a seat on the bench at the start of the season there could be even more.

Despite that, the former Liverpool man revealed he’s enjoying one of the best campaigns he’s ever had.

“I’ve always believed in myself to score goals, but I felt like because I’ve had such an up and down career it’s been difficult to maintain goalscoring.

“This season has been the favourite season of my career so far.

“Playing for my hometown team, after such an up and down start, to be where we are now, to beat so many good teams, while scoring goals, means the world to me.”

One of the key reasons behind Ings’ successful season to date has been his ability to stay fit.

Hasenhuttl ensured he had enough rest over the Christmas period to keep at his prolific best.

Ings handed Saints a scare in the build-up to February’s trip to West Ham when he had to sit out training for most of the week.

He recovered from that, though, and went on to start Saints’ home tie with Newcastle.

Given that he’s been the club’s main supplier of goals, you’d think the pressure of knowing he has to score if his boyhood club are going to win would weigh heavily on his shoulders.

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I think when you come to a team and you take the No 9 shirt then you are inviting that pressure to make sure you do your best to produce,” reflected Ings.

“Every time I step out on the pitch I give everything I have got, even last year when I was in and out of the team I still scored goals, but it was very difficult.

“This year I’ve enjoyed being as fit as I can be, scoring goals and having that pressure.

“I do know there is an expectation now but that’s the pressure I’ve been craving for such a long time.”

It could be argued that had Ings not sustained back-to-back injuries at Liverpool he’d still be there today.

His form this season has shown he is one of the Premier League’s best and once this campaign is back up and running there’s no doubt he’ll continue to score.

Being surrounded by fantastic players at Anfield allowed the striker to learn from some of the best in the business.

But it might surprise you who blew him away.

“The biggest learning curve for me was my time at Liverpool, playing with those players,” he added. “I learnt a lot from Firmino, even when I was injured and wasn’t playing. The movements, the way he reads the game and things like that.

“I could kind of pick things and tell myself that I want to be better at that to make sure I can be the best I can be.”

Firmino is often viewed as the unselfish star who is happy to see former Saint Sadio Mane and Mo Salah grab the headlines.

And, although Ings has scored more than the Brazilian, his St Mary’s teammates will tell you he sacrifices himself in the same way.

Hasenhuttl’s press starts Ings and he’ll harangue defenders for as long as he’s on the pitch, working tirelessly for the south coast side.

It’s reasons like that why the Saints squad are so happy to see the 27-year-old flourishing.

“I’ve always enjoyed pressing and winning the ball back for the team,” the striker explained.

“I feel it’s part of my game that I’m extremely passionate about and when you’re doing it well the lads appreciate it.

“So, if you can score goals on top of that, then it means even more because you put so much time in working as hard as you can for the team.

“It’s great the lads say that about me and long may it continue.”

Despite earning plenty of praise for his efforts in a Saints shirt, there is no escaping the club’s fines committee.

Stuart Armstrong previously told the Daily Echo that Ings was one of the worst offenders and would often find himself in a mock courtroom being judged by defender Jack Stephens.

Fellow Saint James Ward-Prowse does the dirty work and would have informed Ings of his misdemeanours.

But, as there is next to no chance to defend himself in the Saints dressing room, the striker protested his innocence to the Daily Echo.

“Part of it, if I’m honest, is true.

“I do leave my gloves out or something like that because I’m forgetful with things like that.

“But in terms of timekeeping, I’m in before that boy [Armstrong] every day so he can’t say I’m always late!

“I was late once because of an accident on the motorway and I felt because it was so close to his interview that he had to say that.

“I’m here every day before him and that’s a fact!

“Him and Prowsey feel like they have a lot of power because they are effectively policing the fines.

“But we just let them have it.”