Ward-Prowse optimistic over Euros call
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Southampton star James Ward-Prowse admits earning a spot in England’s Euro 2020 squad will be difficult but hopes a strong end to the domestic season will boost his chances.
The midfielder was key to Southampton’s success at the start of 2020-21 and he was recalled to the national side off the back of those performances.
He has been one of the few positives during the second half of the season for Saints as they have slipped down the standings.
With a plethora of options in midfield for Gareth Southgate, Ward-Prowse’s place at the Euros is far from secure. Southgate has experimented with several formations during his time in charge of the national side but Ward-Prowse’s ability to play in more than one midfield role puts him in a strong position.
West Ham’s Declan Rice is the only midfielder seemingly guaranteed a spot in the starting XI, playing in the holding role, while the likes of Jordan Henderson, Mason Mount and Kalvin Phillips are all vying for a berth.
Jesse Lingard’s resurgent form has placed him back in contention for a call-up, while Phil Foden and Jack Grealish have starred for Manchester City and Aston Villa respectively this campaign.
Meanwhile, teenager Jude Bellingham could even earn a surprise slot in Southgate’s travelling 26-man party after impressing during the March international break.
Ward-Prowse, who made his Three Lions debut in 2017, has earned just a handful of appearances over the following years.
The Southampton academy graduate failed to earn a place in Southgate’s squad for the 2018 World Cup but, having played twice over the recent international break, there is a feeling that he could be in the mix for Euro 2020.
He insists his chances of being involved have been boosted by UEFA’s recent announcement to allow managers to name squads of 26 players, but admits it might not matter if he fails to perform for Southampton in the closing weeks of the Premier League season.
“I think with the expansion of the squad there’s obviously more chances for everybody,” Ward-Prowse told the Daily Echo.
“But I’m more focused on finishing the season well. There’s so much competition in that squad. There’s younger players, there’s experienced players, there’s a real quality and depth within it so to get in it is going to be difficult, but if I finish the season well then there’s no reason why I can’t be going.
“There’s a huge amount of competition within that squad and I need to make sure that I give myself the best opportunity to be there in the summer and we’ve got a great chance to finish the season well.”
England play two friendlies at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium to warm-up for the showpiece event, with Austria visiting on June 2 and Romania heading to the north east four days later.
The 2018 World Cup semi-finalists kick off their Euros campaign against Croatia at Wembley on June 13.