BOSS Eddie Howe said it had been “really interesting” to watch the rise of former Cherries striker Danny Ings – as he looks to stop him scoring in Sunday’s crucial home clash with Southampton (2pm).

Ings on Thursday netted his 20th league goal of the campaign during Saints’ 1-1 draw with Brighton, putting him only three behind Jamie Vardy in the race for the golden boot.

The 27-year-old came through the youth ranks at Cherries and was given his professional debut by Howe in October 2009.

Frontman Ings earned his first pro contract in 2010, blossoming under Howe before reuniting with him at Burnley in a £1million move in August 2011.

He then went on to sign for Liverpool from the Clarets in 2015, before being snapped up by Saints on a permanent deal following a successful loan spell.

Asked about the England international, Howe said: “I’m full of praise for Danny.

“His journey has been a really interesting one to see, first from very close up where I was his manager and signed him for Burnley, then from afar.

“The most impressive thing about Danny is, of course, he’s an outstanding player.

“Technically he’s very good, plays with real intelligence and the way he’s come back from his disappointments, the injury setbacks he’s had, the way he’s fought back and kept his mental strength has been hugely impressive.”

Asked whether he always thought Ings could be a top Premier League striker, Howe replied: “Danny is always someone that’s been really high-rated by Jason (Tindall), myself and the rest of my coaching team.

“We are delighted to see a homegrown Bournemouth player come through and do so well in the Premier League. It’s a feeling of pride for us.

“I always felt he had the ability, he just needed a little bit of luck to go with it – and obviously the platform to show what he’s got.

“I think he’s doing that on a regular basis now – so I’m really pleased for him.”

Asked whether Ings was an example for Cherries’ other academy prospects, Howe replied: “I think any player that comes through the system here, whether they go on to be a huge success or just have a career in the Football League, we just try and leave our imprint on them to make sure they leave better footballers and better people.

“I know the guys in the academy take great pride in that. Danny's a great example of what you can achieve, even in difficult circumstances because his background and everything that he went through to make it as a footballer wasn't a smooth journey at all.

“He had a lot of challenges along the way but he needed great mental strength to overcome those hurdles. And the thing that struck me with him was just his desire and motivation levels were always so high.

“He wanted to get to the top. He wanted to be the very best. I'm sure he's kept that right through his career. He's reaped the benefits of that mindset and, of course, you need the talent to back it up. But he has that in abundance.”