England boss Gareth Southgate has heaped praise on James Ward-Prowse after calling up the Southampton captain to his provisional squad for Euro 2020.
Southgate has been manager for Ward-Prowse at Under-21s and senior level with the Three Lions and included the 26-year-old in a 33-man group of players yesterday. With the European Championships just over two weeks away, he seems happy with the midfielders progress over time.
Answering a question from Hampshire Live’s Tom Leach in his press conference yesterday, Southgate said:
"“I’ve worked with James since my very first game in the Under-21s and it has been amazing to see his life progress, really. He is a father, he gets married soon and it is lovely to watch players go through that journey in their life. To see him go from being a young player under Mauricio [Pochettino] to a great captain under Ralph [Hasenhuttl], it’s fantastic.”"
Southampton’s midfield engine should be a part of England’s plans
Southgate’s 33-man group will be whittled down to 26 names before Euro 2020 kicks off on 11th June and he will have decisions to make over who he trusts to represent their country at the highest level.
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Given his form for Saints this season, Ward-Prowse really should be one of the names that he stick with though. The other midfield options make for a very talented group but the set-piece expert provided more than meets the eye.
If England use a three-man midfield at this summer’s tournament, Ward-Prowse is arguably a must. With one sitting midfielder and one forward-thinking player alongside him, he can provide work at both ends of the pitch to compliment his teammates.
He has improved brilliantly in his all-round game by providing a solid defensive screen, leading the Saints press in midfield and contributing hugely to the attack in open play and through set-pieces.
Eight goals and seven assists in the Premier League represents his best season in terms of goal involvements for Saints so far and he will be a key player next season too if things are to improve at St Mary’s.
It has taken him a while to reach the potential that Saints fans and, presumably, national selectors saw in him but now he deserves a chance at a major tournament.