JWP: 'I was itching to get back'

By SFC Media time Sat 13 Jul Club

James Ward-Prowse may not have had much of a summer break, but he says he's delighted to be among the Saints squad as it steps up its pre-season preparations.

The midfielder joined up with the First Team on Wednesday having been given some extra time off after representing England Under-20s at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Turkey throughout June.

And, speaking from the team's training camp in Spain, Ward-Prowse says he's perfectly happy to be back with his Southampton teammates this soon.

"You do miss them after a while!" he admitted to Saints Player. "Towards the end [of summer] I was itching to get back in with the lads and to get going again.

"It was an unforgettable experience to be involved in a World Cup and to represent my country.

"I've come back feeling fit and strong. I'm quite an active person and I don't like sitting around doing nothing, but I did have ten days off.

"I don't feel like I've lost too much fitness and I'm coping with the training regime that the management staff have in place.

"You do need that rest time to prevent injuries, so it's a case of getting the right balance between doing your work on the pitch and making sure your rest and recovery is right.

"That's something I'll be working on across the season bearing in mind that I haven't had much of a break."

The 18-year-old will now look to use the squad's pre-season schedule to build on a successful first full campaign as a professional.

And he says he has enjoyed his first 24 hours in Spain as the squad prepares for its first pre-season friendly, which takes place next Wednesday

"The hotel is really nice and we've got great facilities to use such as the pool," affirmed James. 

"We've done a lot of work in the gym, which is really nice as well, and the pitches are only a jog away. It will be a good preparation for the new season.

"I want to improve on last year," he continued. "I made 15 appearances in the league and a couple in the cup, so I'd like to double that. 

"I'll work as hard as I can in pre-season like I did last year to try to get into the starting XI. I'm ready to impact on the team in any way I can."

There will be added competition for a central-midfield berth next season, though, with new signing Victor Wanyama coming into the squad.

But, having battled with the likes of Steven Davis and Jack Cork for a spot last year, Ward-Prowse says he is more than ready for the fight.

"If a new player comes into the camp – like Steven Davis did last year – then you've got to battle it out," he insisted. 

"It's not going to be easy but you are going to have this throughout your whole career – players will come in, and managers will come and go. It's about how you deal with it. 

"It's added competition and it's a challenge for me now to shrug him off so I can keep my place in the squad and get into the first XI."

Ward-Prowse signed a new five-year contract shortly after his 18th birthday last autumn, and watched teammate Luke Shaw follow suit and do the same yesterday.

Lloyd Isgrove also signed a new contract yesterday, leaving James pleased for two players who progressed through the Saints Academy alongside him.

"I'm absolutely delighted for them both," he beamed. "I've been with them since we were eight or nine, so to come this far and into the First Team with them and to see them pledge their future is great.

"Luke and I know within ourselves that this is the best place to be. I don't think we'd get this chance at any other football club.


"It's another great sign from the chairman and the Football Club that we want to try to get the youngsters through and to give them the best possible chance. 

"It's good to see us all coming together as one as we look to push on into the First Team."

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