Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl has confirmed that James Ward-Prowse is not as badly injured as first feared.
The midfielder was stretchered off just before half-time in Saints’ FA Cup Fourth-Round replay with Spurs on Wednesday evening and was clearly in considerable pain as he left the field.
Having seen Ward-Prowse go down clutching his knee, Saints fans and Hasenhuttl would have been seriously concerned over the severity of the issue given his excellent season so far.
However, Hasenhuttl eased fears by confirming that it was not as bad as it looked, and said (via southamptonfc.com):
“I’m happy that Prowsey’s injury is not that bad. That would’ve been horrible – to lose the game and lose him for longer, so this is the positive thing. It’s only a cut on the knee – a deep one and you could see the bone, so it will take a little bit of time to heal, but if it was a ligament injury, it would be more of a problem for us.”
Hasenhuttl’s description still indicates that this problem will take a while to heal, and it’s fully understandable why Ward-Prowse was in such pain.
It is of some considerable relief that there is no ligament damage though, with Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries often taking 6-9 months to come back from.
On initial viewing, the incident did look very similar to another one that Saints fans will remember – Jay Rodriguez’s knee injury away at Manchester City that put the brakes on a blossoming Saints career for the striker.
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But it is now clear that the injury was as a result of contact with the studs of Spurs man Ryan Sessegnon, who takes no blame with the incident completely unintentional.
Up until going off, Ward-Prowse had actually played every minute of every game for Saints in 2019/20.
This season saw him struggling to begin with, but he has grown to become a vital part of the current setup as Saints turn their season around.
His normal role sees him putting his endless running and passing range to good use as one of the two central-midfielders in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s 4-2-2-2 formation.
However, he has also stepped in at right-back more recently and excelled when Saints had no available players to call upon in that position.
In many ways, Ward-Prowse’s showings during this campaign have seen him becoming the player we all wanted him to be a long time ago.
The effect that his current manager has had on him – both on and off the pitch – cannot be understated and the team and player are both benefiting hugely at the moment.