BBC pundit thinks Southampton have an ‘exceptional’ player in their ranks
Stephen Warnock has told BBC Radio 5 Live (6/6, 18:59) that Southampton star James Ward-Prowse gave ‘everything’ he could to show Gareth Southgate why he deserved to make the England squad for Euro 2020.
Southgate named Ward-Prowse in his preliminary 33-man squad but the midfieler failed to make the final 26. The Saints product earned a second shot following Trent Alexander-Arnold’s injury, but Brighton defender Ben White received the call instead.
Warnock expected the decision on who replaced Alexander-Arnold to come down to Ward-Prowse or Jesse Lingard. Southgate gave both opportunities to prove their case over the Three Lions’ pre-tournament friendlies with Austria and Romania.
Southampton captain Ward-Prowse earned his eighth-cap and third start for England on Sunday against Romania. And he produced a performance that raised questions over why Southgate had chosen to drop the 26-year-old for Euro 2020.
The Portsmouth-born maestro was tidy on the ball and tireless off it all night. He resisted the visitor’s pressure with ease and received a celebratory pat on the back from Southgate when substituted off after an hour.
Warnock does not believe there is anything more Ward-Prowse could have done to convince Southgate of his case. Having established himself above Lingard in the pecking order of potential Alexander-Arnold replacements at the Riverside Stadium.
“I expected it to be Jesse Lingard,” Warnock said. “I thought he’d be the player that would get in the squad. But if you’re doing it on form and merit, James Ward-Prowse was exceptional today.
“When you think of him, he’s very tidy on the ball, set-piece specialist. I just don’t think he can do any more [to impress Southgate]. He knows that. He can hold his hands up and say he gave it everything.”
Southgate wrong to drop Southampton star Ward-Prowse
Much like for Southampton all season, Ward-Prowse was brilliant for England in their final Euro 2020 warm-up fixture. His set-pieces, in particular, are a big part of the Saints’ game plan and scared Romania throughout Sunday’s encounter.
Without Alexander-Arnold in the Three Lions squad, either, Southgate now lacks a set-piece expert. He will surely regret his decision to send Ward-Prowse home when the tournament begins if others cannot step up.
The only part of Ward-Prowse’s game that may have left Southgate uncertain on including him was the midfielder’s tackles. He produced a few snappy lunges for possession at the Riverside Stadium that could have ensured he is not a starter at the tournament and therefore not deemed needed.
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