It’s been an exciting season for Southampton’s talismanic James Ward-Prowse. Born in Portsmouth but adorned as a fan favourite by rivals Southampton, the Englishman has been able to thrive on the South Coast. With the recent departures of the likes of Adam Lallana, Victor Wanyama and Sadio Mané, at just 22 years of age, he has become key to Southampton’s successes.
He was heavily involved in the club’s narrow EFL Cup Final defeat to Manchester United, and then again, when he scored against Tottenham in the Saints’ recent 2-1 defeat. Both were games from which Ward-Prowse, and ultimately Southampton, were unlucky to come away empty-handed.
Where players and managers have come and gone at the South Coast club, Ward-Prowse has embraced his opportunity to shine. With an average of 31.81 successful passes per game, there is no doubt that the youngster has become Claude Puel’s man to pull the strings. The youngster also has the fluidity to be able to play out wide, on the wing. Indeed, his 98 attempted crosses this term have demonstrated his flexible nature and desire to provide for his fellow teammates.
Along with his obvious playmaking traits, Ward-Prowse has also managed three Premier League goals this season, surpassing his total for last season already. With a further four assists to his name, Ward-Prowse has had a direct hand in just over 20% of Southampton’s top flight goals this season.
There is no doubt that Ward-Prowse is one of England’s brightest prospects. He made his England Under-21s debut aged 18 and captained the Under-21 side that won their first Toulon Tournament since 1994, at the end of last season.
His success went on. He was nominated as one of the three best players from the tournament, as well as bagging the goal of the tournament award. Later he would be selected as a candidate for the England Young Player of the Year award, eventually losing out to fellow Saint, Nathan Redmond.
Although Ward-Prowse has a long way to go to become the key man for both club and country, there is no doubt he is on the way to a bright future. England boss, Gareth Southgate has clearly noticed his performances, awarding him with a well-earned England debut in the frustrating 1-0 defeat to Germany recently.
Just days later, the youngster was left frustratingly left on the bench, at Wembley, as England laboured to a 2-0 win over Lithuania. The Three Lions may well be on their way to the 2018 World Cup, but Ward-Prowse’s potential inclusion will certainly be a hot topic for discussion.
It will be by no means easy. The 22-year-old is not short of competition from other young English midfielders, with the likes of Dele Alli and Ross Barkley now coming to fruition. It’s good for England, but you can’t help feeling that the talented Southerner may just miss out.
Where other bright prospects have come, gone, and perhaps then faded from St. Mary’s, only time will tell if the Southampton midfielder will live up to his growing reputation and become a household name in the future.
But for now, Ward-Prowse will be focused on driving Southampton to victory, this weekend, in their fixture against Bournemouth.