Southampton have received a huge fitness boost ahead of their Premier League opener against Everton after James Ward-Prowse returned to training.
The Saints captain struggled with a knee injury throughout pre-season and only played a part in one of the five friendlies. Now though, it appears he is close to reaching full fitness again.
Speaking on BBC Radio Solent’s Fans’ Forum on Tuesday evening, Ralph Hasenhuttl said:
"“He couldn’t train with the team until today (Tuesday) but he is back in training now. He is hungry and very happy.”"
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In terms of what he does on the pitch, Ward-Prowse may not be the most striking player. However, is perhaps their most effective at the job he does.
He has added so much more to his game besides his renowned set-pieces and is surely one of the best all-round midfielders in the English game right now despite being axed from England’s Euros squad.
A lot was made of his unbelievable fitness in the past two campaigns. He was ever-present in 2019/20 and 2020/21 and became the first outfield play to play every Premier League game in two consecutive seasons.
His partnership with Oriol Romeu in the centre of midfield will continue to be crucial into the 2021/22 season. The two compliment each other hugely, with one the defensive head who dictates play and one as a player capable of influencing play in both boxes.
Along with Romeu and Ward-Prowse there are some other options too that mean central-midfield is one of the strongest areas for Ralph Hasenhuttl right now.
Ibrahima Diallo is a raw talent but showed that he is suited to the levels of the Premier League last season, whilst Stuart Armstrong also excelled when filling in centrally in some games.