James Ward-Prowse has moved away from the good guy image fans of Southampton were more acquainted with to a midfielder with more aggression and bite bringing about a change of fortunes for him under the reins of Ralph Hassenhuttl and a recall to the England squad.
Many eyebrows were raised when the 24-yr-old wasn’t shortlisted among the English squad having scored six important and classy goals since the start of the year but a rush of injuries to some members of Gareth Southgate’s squad had found some pathway for the midfielder to be snuck into the squad.
Long touted as a technically gifted midfielder, the Alpine Klopp, Ralph, has made him tackle more and play more aggressively and Ward-Prowse is grateful for the cutting edge that has been brought into his game.
Ward-Prowse said that the new manager had pointed out his strengths and weaknesses to him and that he had benefitted from that. He said he no longer wanted to be just that academy boy but that he was willing and ready to stamp his authority more on the field of play.
He also said:
“Since the new manager at Southampton came in, he mentioned a few things I needed to change, and I took that on board.
“I want to get away from that perception of the Southampton academy boy. That’s not what I want to be anymore. That played a part in it for sure.
“A bit more aggressive, to try and stamp my authority a bit more on what’s going on, so it was a good conversation I had, and I respected the way he approached me with that.
“I have utmost respect for him. He told me my strengths, my weaknesses and I feel I have benefited from that.”
One clear strength of Ward-Prowse has always been set pieces, with the 24-yr-old netting in back-to-back games against Manchester United and Tottenham.
“The obvious ones come to mind: (David) Beckham, (Steven) Gerrard and (Frank) Lampard,” he said of free-kick takers he admired.
“I watched videos of them but ultimately I created my own technique, what was right for me, a lot of hard work, a lot of hours on the training pitch.