Could it be that Southampton's vaunted academy is so good that even its outcasts are of Premier League quality? Or do the performances of the Burnley striker Danny Ings, who was released by Saints as a youngster, simply prove that one of England's most celebrated footballing nurseries sometimes gets it wrong?

Both interpretations are possible but one thing is certain: Burnley are getting a lot of things right even if their FA Cup ambitions were foiled here. Adam Lallana's long-range goal enabled Southampton to emerge victorious from a thrilling game that featured enough fine play to increase the belief that this will be a top-flight fixture next season – provided Ings is not prised away from Burnley this month.

Ings' equaliser, which enabled Burnley to play their way back into contention after being 2-0 down, brought his tally for the season to 20 goals in 28 matches. He is among the chief reasons that Burnley are second in the Championship and why several even better appointed clubs are considering making a bid for him.

Becoming so coveted is a testament to the character, as well as the skill, of a player who endured the crushing disappointment of being cast out by Southampton as a teenager. He rebuilt his career at nearby Bournemouth before being bought by Burnley in 2011. Injury stunted his development but now he is flourishing so much that he has been called up by England Under-21s, where he features alongside highly lauded Southampton's Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse.

He is hungry to make it to the top but the Burnley manager, Sean Dyche, is not fearing a transfer request. "I want that thirst for players to play at a higher level," said Dyche, who has fostered a team of admirable slickness and spirit. "Until contractually there is a situation where that changes, then he's playing at the highest level he can with us. He's earning as he goes. He's got a real thirst to learn and improve and that bodes well for him and us.

"Every player has fuel of their own. The collective fuel is to win and be successful. Each player will have a thirst for whatever they want out of life and football is a great job to give you most things that you'd like. Some play just to win, some play for kudos, some play for what you people write about how good they are, some play for money, some play for fame or whatever. It doesn't interest me. I know what I played for and what I do now but I don't judge players – they can have a thirst for whatever they wish to get out of the game."

Burnley, who this season receive the last of their parachute payments following their relegation from the Premier League in 2010, can afford not to sell even if Dyche concedes that "every player has a price".

The club know that losing Ings would be costly, for in addition to his own finishing prowess and nimble movement, Ings has forged a sharp understanding with his fellow forward Sam Vokes, who also scored against Southampton, taking his haul for the campaign to 11 so far.

"The way those two are going it's an unbelievable partnership and they'd cause any defence problems," says Jay Rodriguez, who scored for Southampton on Saturday before Lallana struck the decisive goal.

Rodriguez is Burnley-born and still retains deep affection for the club he served before joining Southampton two years ago. He is convinced the Burnley strike duo can help ensure the clubs meet again next season. "It's a great partnership. They are a good set of lads and both good footballers. I believe [Burnley] can go all the way. There is no reason why not. The way they play and are getting results they deserve the results, which is the main thing, and it's a pleasure to see and I just want it to carry on for them."

Man of the match Danny Ings (Burnley)