England manager Gareth Southgate has confirmed that Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse will remain on a standby list for the upcoming Euro 2020 tournament.
Ward-Prowse was dropped from the Three Lions’ group of players yesterday as Southgate whittled his squad down from 33 to 26 but will be ready and waiting if any fitness concerns appear in the next week.
Speaking in his press conference on Tuesday about more senior players in Ward-Prowse, Ollie Watkins and Jesse Lingard who are likely to miss out, Southgate said:
"“Those three boys have been really valuable members of our squad and I gave them all the option that, if they did not want to stay in the group, to go home but they were all adamant. They value being with England, they want to be part of the squad, they know that we have two matches still to play which they will be involved in and, if we pick up injuries, that group of players are the ones who are on standby.”"
Has Ward-Prowse just been unfortunate on reflection?
A lot of Saints fans – including myself – felt that our club had been overlooked again when Ward-Prowse was dropped from England’s plans yesterday.
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He has led Saints really well and been the standout performer in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team, but the fact that the team had struggled as a whole seemed to go against him. David Ornstein of the Athletic suggested that players who had finished higher up the Premier League table would be chosen ahead of others, and so it proved.
This reasoning is certainly the wrong way to go about things. Had Saints finished in the top half, Ward-Prowse may well have been given a place in the 26-man group based on that.
However, it may also be the case that decisions were so tight that there had to be at least some way of differentiating between players.
Gareth Southgate has many high-performing options available to him right now and the fact that Ward-Prowse is seen as a reserve proves that. The Saints captain may well feel unlucky but a player of his calibre would have been a bigger part of England’s future a while ago.
The positive to come from this situation is that the 26-year-old will be on hand to come back into the squad if Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson is not fit enough. If not called upon, Ward-Prowse will also get some much-needed time away from the game after two seasons where he has played every single minute for Saints.