MANAGER Dougie Freedman knows full well the threat posed to his side by in-form opposition striker Danny Ings tonight – he just wishes he was wearing the white of Wanderers rather than the claret of Burnley.
Freedman is a long-time admirer of the 21-year-old, who took his goal tally to 24 with a brace against Millwall at the weekend, and has tried to buy him twice since taking over at the Reebok 16 months ago.
He revealed ahead of the game that Wanderers came very close to signing the former Bournemouth forward before a difference between the two clubs’ valuations saw a deal break down.
Ings has gone on to shine for Sean Dyche’s high-fliers and that is no surprise to Freedman, who believes it is only a matter of time before he graces the top flight.
“I tried to buy Danny several times and it doesn’t surprise me how well he is doing,” said the Bolton boss.
“I tried to get him last year, twice at Crystal Palace and when I first came to Bolton.
“He is a young and hungry player who wants to do well and who listens and learns.
“We were very unfortunate we couldn’t strike a deal at the time because I think we were close. We were at the table and nearly there.
“I told Sean Dyche I would make a bid and was up front but Burnley turned it down.
“They wanted a bit more than my valuation at the time; looking back maybe we should have stretched a bit more.
“I felt his value was what we put on the table, knowing it would rise. It wasn’t what they valued him at and it broke down.
“Since then, he has gone on and improved and he is only going one place and that is the Premier League.
“His value has gone up six times since we went for him.”
As one of the top strikers in the Championship, Freedman knows his defence will have to be on top of their game.
Ings scored against the Whites in the opening day draw at Turf Moor but the Wanderers manager believes they contained him well and says a lot of work has gone into a repeat performance tonight.
He added: “We have a certain gameplan for Danny; we have been watching a lot of videos on how he plays.
“I know everything about him.
“I felt we kept him very quiet at the start of the season, although he scored we kept him in check and we will try to play in a similar way and squeeze the areas he operates in.”
Concentration is key to keeping Ings and strike partner Sam Vokes in check and that is something Freedman believes has been letting his team down this season.
“We seem to switch off and lack concentration and that’s our downfall right now and the difference to last year,” Freedman said.
“That’s probably where the fans’ frustration is; they can see we are capable of winning games but we are not doing because of concentration, individually and collectively.
“Mistakes are costing us so dear right now and we are getting punished for every one.
“We have played a lot of teams at the top away from home and we have them to come at home.
“Derby matches like tonight are very important to the fans and hopefully we will have the crowd right behind us.
“In these games fans can get you through and we need to show passion and commitment and get the crowd on board because that can be the difference.
“We need to be right at it out of the traps quickly.”