25 Feb Ward-Prowse ‘giving everything’ for top-flight survival and World Cup bid
James Ward-Prowse will give everything to keep Southampton in the Premier League – and earn a place in England’s World Cup squad.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate was at Turf Moor on Saturday as relegation-threatened Saints snatched a late 1-1 draw against Burnley.
Ward-Prowse was among those under assessment ahead of next month’s friendlies against Holland and Italy, having made his debut in Germany last March before captaining the Under-21s at last summer’s European Championship.
Southgate is a long-standing admirer of the 23-year-old and, despite being overlooked for the senior squad since the summer, the midfielder is hoping improved recent performances for Saints have him in World Cup contention.
“It has been in the back of my mind since the European Championships finished in the summer,” Ward-Prowse said.
“I know that if I can do well in my day-to-day job here at Southampton and help the team win games and perform well on an individual level, then I give myself a chance.
“I want to give myself every chance of being in the squad and if it doesn’t happen, then at least I can say I know I gave it everything.”
Ward-Prowse had also pledged to give his all as Saints find themselves in the unusual position of fighting the drop.
“I am not sure,” he said when asked why the side had dropped off this season.
“You know, sometimes football goes like that, but I think that’s what drives us because we know we’re good enough and we know we should be higher up the league.
“And we all have aspirations of playing European football and that drives us on to make sure we get back to those days of playing Europa League football.
“The quality of the squad that we’ve got and the players we’ve got, the experiences we’ve had, we shouldn’t be where we are but I am sure come the end of the season we’ll be safe and sound.”
Saints certainly have far more ability than they showed at Turf Moor, where Nick Pope produced his latest impressive performance between the sticks for Burnley.
The goalkeeper has deputised with aplomb for injured England international Tom Heaton, with team-mate Ashley Barnes full of praise for the 25-year-old shot-stopper.
Barnes, Saturday’s goalscorer, said: “Nick Pope has been player of the season – 100 per cent already, player of the season.
“Since he came in the amount of games he has saved us has been fantastic.
“He deserves to be on that next level of stage but of course that’s not our decision to make.”
Jack Cork, Michael Keane and Heaton have received England call-ups at Burnley in recent years, with Ben Mee another mentioned in the same breath as the Three Lions.
“If you get in the squad and impress, the manager may take a few outsiders,” the Burnley defender said. “You never know what will happen. We’ll have to wait and see.
“To be getting mentioned is all positive. It’s fantastic. Obviously, you have ambitions and want to get in the squad.
“You guys (in the media) are mentioning it and other people are too. That shows I’m moving forward and the other lads are too, which is great for the club.”