Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse took another step into senior international football when he scored his first goal for England against San Marino.
The 26-year-old broke the deadlock for the Three Lions in the 14th minute when he arrived perfectly in the box to convert Ben Chilwell’s cutback and was understandably delighted to play an important role in a good win for his side.
Speaking to BBC Sport (via southamptonfc.com) post-match, he said:
"“It was a huge night. I think it’s one that you dream of as a boy growing up. You want to play for England, you want to score here at Wembley and to fulfil that is a massive honour and a great achievement. It’s left me leaving the pitch wanting more and wanting to chase more success like that.”"
England formation may improve Ward-Prowse at Southampton even further
Interestingly, Ward-Prowse was given more of a licence to roam forward on Thursday when compared to his role with Saints.
Ralph Hasenhuttl uses a sitting two-man midfield, and it is their job to cover the central areas to provide defensive and attacking support.
More from Saints Marching
- Grading the Southampton Transfer Window Part 2: Arrivals
- Grading the Southampton Transfer Window Part 1: Departures
- It’s time to talk about Gavin Bazunu
- Rain clouds on the horizon? Southampton beat Plymouth Argyle
- A lament for Southampton legend James Ward-Prowse
England manager Gareth Southgate often uses a three-man midfield, which requires the central player to sit, defend and control the tempo of possession whilst the other two push higher up the pitch.
Ward-Prowse has enjoyed the best goalscoring season of his career but five of those have been from free-kicks. Something that he can improve on is his ability to chip in with open play goals, and this could potentially come from getting more England caps.
As one of the two midfielders who push higher up, he had less of the ball when compared to his teammates but this meant that he spent more time looking to make those forward runs – thoughts that could remain in his game when he returns to Saints.
Saints have had less goals from their strikers this season and they will be looking for contributions from other sources whilst trying not to become too dependent on Ward-Prowse’s set-piece.
The academy graduate has impressed so much from dead ball situations that he took corner and free-kick responsibilities for his country last night. However, he could become an even better, all-round midfielder if those open play goals start to flow steadily too.