JWP targets new campaign

England Under-21s midfielder James Ward-Prowse is hoping to keep his development on track at Southampton this season after enjoying the busiest campaign of his career.

The 19-year-old made 39 appearances in all competitions for the Saints last season, following on from the 19 games he played in the 2012-13 campaign.

And Ward-Prowse’s career motto is to keep bettering himself year-on-year, so he will be keen to make a good impression when he reports back for pre-season training under new Saints boss Ronald Koeman this summer.

James Ward-Prowse collects

Ward-Prowse picked up two awards at the Toulon Tournament in France this summer

“It [last season] was an improvement on the season before and that for me is important,” he said.

“That means my development is continuing to go the way I want it to, if things are getting better year by year. 

“So as long as I keep doing better than I did the year before, then I am on the right track.”

Ward-Prowse has also impressed on the international stage over the past year, progressing from the U20s World Cup last summer into Gareth Southgate’s Under-21 squad.

He was an ever-present for the Three Lions as they finished the season on top of their Euro qualifying group and already guaranteed a spot in October’s play-off for a place in next summer’s Euro Finals in Czech Republic.

And the Portsmouth-born starlet ended the season with more awards as he was named as one of the best three players at the Toulon Tournament in France where he also scored the Goal Of The Tournament against Brazil.

“It was a great honour to get the awards and a good end to the season, but just a shame we couldn’t do a little better in the Tournament,” said Ward-Prowse.

Watch Ward-Prowse’s fantastic free-kick against Brazil in the Toulon Tournament

“But we now have the chance to rest over the summer and come back ready for the new season.

“I was the fittest I have ever been last season, just from the work we did in training at Southampton, which included two or three gym sessions a week involving a lot of running and running with resistance.

“That was the base for me to work from and it’s something I’d like to continue with.”

Last season also saw Ward-Prowse prove his versatility, as he was often utilised on the right of midfield by ex-Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino as well as being used in his more natural central midfield role.

With that experience now under his belt, Ward-Prowse is hoping that can put him in a strong position for the new campaign, whether that’s at club level or on the international stage.

“I have had to adapt my game, as he [Pochettino] has played me slightly out of position on the right,” he explained.

“So I have had to work more on my game going forward to adapt and that was an area I needed to improve. 

“But having done that, I have added another string to my bow and I feel I can now play in a number of different positions.”