Southampton have a reputation of bringing extremely talented youngsters through their academy and at a tender nineteen years of age, James Ward-Prowse looks to be the latest addition to a fine portfolio of talented graduates from the Saints’ youth system. Ward-Prowse is a midfielder, hailing from nearby city and rivals Portsmouth but joined Southampton when he was just eight years old.
Far from physically commanding, he stands at 5ft 8in and holds a low centre of gravity. His razor-sharp vision and astute ball control gives him a cutting edge over most opponents with his eye for a pass causing teams all sorts of bother in the final third. He’s also a set-piece master and overall a very intelligent footballer who possesses the potential to be England’s next big thing.
He burst on to the scene on the opening day of the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season, coming on as a second half substitute for then manager Nigel Adkins’ side against champions Manchester City. The Saints eventually lost 3-2 in a thrilling encounter. Under Argentinian coach Mauricio Pochettino, he gradually began to establish himself as a Saints regular during the 2013/14 season. This season he has started in impressive form with a promising performance against last season’s title runners-up, Liverpool.
Ward-Prowse first joined the England set-up as an U17 star, gaining 7 caps in the process between 2010 and 2011. Steadily progressing through the higher ranks, he received an England U21 call-up by coach Gareth Southgate in 2013 for the 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification matches against Moldova and Finland. His next step just very well may be a call-up to the senior side as Roy Hodgson sets about creating a more youthful and vibrant England squad ahead of the Euro 2016 Championship in two years time.
There’s no doubt about Ward-Prowse’s potential. It’s whether he can flourish in a new-look Southampton side that is undergoing a season of transition following the loss of influential players such as Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert under new boss Ronald Koeman.
Ward-Prowse is a potential candidate for this year’s Premier League Young Player of the Season in my eyes. Expect to hear a lot more about this young man in the near future, with the world as his oyster.
Do you have the same level of faith in James Ward-Prowse’s ability and believe that he will be a star in the Premier League for Southampton for years to come? Let us know in the comments or on twitter @TBRFootball .