One of the latest products of Southampton’s renowned academy has recently and rampantly completed his breakthrough to the first-team.
James Ward-Prowse has a significant season ahead after establishing himself last term, where he created an impressive 33 chances on what some might class as his debut season as such.
A central midfielder whose trademark taking of free-kicks is one that is talked about up and down the country, the St Mary’s faithful are in prime position to watch a future England ace blossom in his maiden days. In fact, since catching the eye of Mauricio Pochettino prior to the 2013/14 campaign, 84% of his deliveries from dead ball situations have found a team-mate in or around the box.
Barely out of nappies when idol, David Beckham, first earned his knack for efforts from the halfway line – beating Wimbledon shot-stopper, Neil Sullivan, from the centre circle – the 20-year-old has since adopted a style similar to that of the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man. Passing his key attribute, Ward-Prowse attained a 87% passing completion rate come the end of the 2014-15 season.
The youngster carries out simple but effective balls that carry possession through from the backline to the forwards, a prospect playmaker if you will. But not only does the Portsmouth-born boy possess the composure to not only be trusted from 12 yards – netting on home soil against Hull City back in April – he, additionally, rarely throws himself into a feisty fray for a set-piece or launch forward a last-ditch long ball.
He’s already represented his country at Under-17, 19, 20 and 21 levels, so could Saints’ number 16 be the man to precede Michael Carrick in Roy Hodgson’s central park? As one door closes, another one opens, so they say, and with Morgan Schneiderlin slamming the exit shut on his way to Old Trafford, it presents the player-in-question with an opportunity to make himself a permanent fixture in the midfield as opposed to a 15 minutes here, and a half-time substitution there.
Ward-Prowse’s aerial ability may require a little improvement but a season alongside Victor Wanyama would do the trick, with a lot to learn from the 6ft2in Kenyan. Additionally, despite a 57% shot accuracy last campaign and a 30-yard strike to stun Coventry back in 2012, his attempts on goal could use a little brushing up on too, but that’s nothing Pelle and co can’t teach him.