Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse has reportedly been dropped by England ahead of Euro 2020 as Gareth Southgate cuts his squad.
According to an exclusive report by the Athletic’s David Ornstein, Ward-Prowse is set to be a surprise omission. This is certainly a bizarre change of tune from Southgate after his recent high praise of a player he has worked with over many years.
Ornstein suggests as reason is midfielders who finished higher in the Premier League with their clubs will be selected over Ward-Prowse, who was one of seven midfielders included in the provisional 33-man squad that Southgate named last week.
Euro 2020 kicks off on 11th June but it now appears that there will be no English representatives from Saints despite Ward-Prowse and Danny Ings seemingly being amongst the strongest players in their positions.
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On the face of it, it seems as though the form that Ward-Prowse has shown and the numbers that he has accumulated over the past season have been completely disregarded.
He has been the stand-out player in a team that struggled as a unit after Christmas. His team’s results should not count against him when he is considered for international duty, because if that was the case, what would be the point in him putting in the hard work he has in the last few years to improve?
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Saints supporters have seen this all before. Matt Le Tissier was the key Saints player in a struggling team and was criminally underused by England, whilst others like James Beattie and Ryan Bertrand saw their displays on the South Coast largely unnoticed too.
Speak to any Saints fan who saw Ward-Prowse break into the team as a youngster and has seen his progression to now and they will say he has improved immeasurably in recent times.
For a while it seemed as though he did not know the type of player he wanted to become. Different managers played him in a variety of positions and he failed to nail one down – particularly when he played as a central-midfielder.
Under Ralph Hasenhuttl though, he has become the dominant player and a superb leader in the middle of the park. Many of his stats compare favourably to other players who will be representing England this summer.
If it is reliability and suitability to the position that Southgate wants – presumably he does – it is even stranger to overlook Ward-Prowse.
He played more minutes than any other England player last season and played all of his football as a central-midfielder, whereas others played a variety of positions and may not be so set in their ways.