Danny Ings vs. Harry Kane: Which Player Will Be Riding Highest in 2 Years' Time?

Sam Rooke@@SamRooke89Featured ColumnistApril 3, 2015

England’s Harry Kane reacts during the international friendly soccer match between Italy and England, at the Juventus stadium in Turin, Italy, Tuesday, March 31, 2015. (AP Photo/Massimo Pinca)
Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

Harry Kane is the latest darling of the British press. 

The Tottenham Hotspur striker toiled for years in loan spells across the Football League and in endless youth tournaments and academy fixtures before finally getting his chance. 

His debut goal for England, his 30th of the season in senior football, fits the narrative of his breakout campaign perfectly. 

Danny Ings, the key man in Burnley's promotion push last season and their most important player in the battle for Premier League survival, is a similarly exciting talent. 

More of a slow burner than Kane, Ings emerged after Charlie Austin left the Clarets for Queens Park Rangers

Which of these two former England under-21 strike partners will be riding higher in 2017? 

Reaching into the future with a piece of this nature is, by definition, speculative. However, we can make an educated guess at the prospects of these two young English strikers. 

Kane has all of the advantages in this contest. 

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He is the younger by almost exactly a year and is far further ahead of Ings in his career at this point. 

Breaking into Roy Hodgson's England squad is notoriously difficult, but Kane has now done that. His goal against Lithuania and solid performance against Italy have likely secured his place in the national setup for some time to come. 

Consider Andros Townsend's consistent selection despite poor form for Spurs. Hodgson is nothing if not loyal to the players that have delivered for him. 

Ings is a key member of the under-21 side and will likely partner Kane in the Czech Republic at this summer's European Championship, but goals at youth international level are only worth so much. 

Francis Jeffers is England's all-time leading goalscorer at under-21 level. He shares that record with Alan Shearer. Evidently, success as a youth international can be an indication of senior potential but is no guarantee. 

Even if Ings shines for the under-21s, he will likely find his international path blocked by Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Kane. 

Both Kane and Ings cut their teeth in England's lower divisions but, while Kane is playing for one of the country's top teams, Ings' own club will probably be relegated this season. 

Burnley have a proud history of producing England players. Twenty-four Clarets have represented the country but none have done so since 1974. It is a harsh reality but it will be difficult for Ings to convince Hodgson of his international class while playing for a "lesser" team. 

Realistically, Ings will need to move to a bigger club in order to move beyond Kane.

Former Spurs captain Jamie Redknapp is certain Ings will move on and up this summer. "With all respect to Burnley, he is destined for bigger things."

Tim Ireland/Associated Press

Fortunately for Ings, his contract with Burnley is close to expiration. He will be able to move on a free transfer in the summer, although his new club would owe the Clarets compensation

Obviously, a player of Ings' quality being available virtually free has piqued the interest of some of Europe's biggest clubs. 

Liverpool led the charge in January, but Real Sociedad and Borussia Monchengladbach have also reportedly joined the race. 

Gladbach are likely to be able to offer Champions League football next season, something that Sociedad can't and Liverpool may not be able to. Schalke and Borussia Dortmund have also scouted Ings, according to Alex Richards of the Mirror, and their impressive history of shaping young talented players into bona fide stars would make any offer from the German giants a tempting one. 

Manchester United have also reportedly scouted Ings, as reported by the Daily Mail's Kieran Gill, and might soon be able to guarantee European football and an ideal launching pad for an international career. 

If Ings does secure a move abroad or to one of the Premier League's bigger teams, he will be able to compete with Kane on a more even footing. 

At that point, their playing styles will provide the key distinction.

Kane is deceptively quick, shields the ball very well and possesses a wicked and precise shot. His north London derby-winning header showed that he is no slouch in the air.

He is also football smart. Constantly aware of defenders' positioning and the match situation, Kane is never one to be caught out. He is even capable of dropping deep into a playmaking role. Hodgson sees that as significant virtue. "He's not one who just stays on the shoulder and make runs, he's quite prepared to take part in the build-up play."

Ings is faster, smaller (four inches shorter) and a far more elusive runner. He seems to be a more natural goalscorer than Kane and shares a similar temperament. Both Kane and Ings are tireless, aggressive runners without the ball.   

The Mirror describes Ings' as bringing "pace and fluidity in spades" and being a "classic poacher" whose movement "in and around the box help others into the game."

Bleacher Report's World Football staff writer Karl Matchett compared Ings' qualities to Kane, saying: "Ings certainly has ability inside the penalty box, and can play off the front man too in the same way Kane can. He does not have the physical stature of Kane, nor the quality of team-mates providing him chances at club level, yet he has managed a goal every 250 minutes or so for a side struggling against relegation."

Built more like a typically prolific striker, Ings has only reached double figures in one season. He is scoring at one goal in every three matches this campaign. That is a solid return for a striker in a struggling team, but he must contribute more goals to really compete with Kane, who is on the verge of being a 30-goal-a-season man. 

Admittedly, Kane has also only reached double figures once, but he contributes more than just goals. 

Ings has had the opportunity to move to a larger club before. 

Southampton were reported to be interested in January, according to ESPNFC's Chris Rann.

The catastrophic knee injury that Ings suffered in 2012 has not prevented him from returning to goalscoring form but will always be a concern for potential suitors. 

Ings is a bright young striker with an excellent sense of timing and an underrated ability to escape tight defenders. He would be a fine addition to most squads around Europe; Tottenham could certainly do worse than signing him, but Harry Kane is on another level. 

Kane has done far more than Ings at this stage in their young careers. He has single-handedly won matches against some of England's strongest teams. Ings has scored just twice in wins this season. 

Scott Heppell/Associated Press

A strong all-round player, Kane's greatest asset is his football intelligence. That is not likely to be diminished by age. Rather, Kane will improve with age and experience. 

He is also in a better position than Ings. His somewhat unique position as a local boy, risen up through the ranks, will afford him far more support among the fans. If Kane hits a rough patch, they will still serenade him as "one of our own." 

By contrast, if Ings does move to a big club, he will be only a hired gun and will be expected to deliver immediately. He could also be second or third choice at Man United, Liverpool or Dortmund. Kane is unlikely to ever be a regular substitute again. 

The odds are massively stacked against Danny Ings. He is a fine player but lacks all the advantages that Harry Kane possesses. 

In two years, it is possible that Ings will be riding higher than Kane but all signs point to the contrary. Kane will probably go to Euro 2016 as one of England's main weapons, and that will take his game and his reputation to another level. He will almost certainly leave Ings far behind over the next two years.