Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse has “changed his game completely” under Ralph Hasenhuttl, according to journalist Tom Barclay.
Ward-Prowse has been part of the furniture at St Mary’s since breaking into the first-team in 2012, but Barclay has seen a real difference in his playing style since Hasenhuttl arrived in December 2018.
What’s the latest news on Ward-Prowse?
The 26-year-old started Southampton’s first seven league matches of the season, scoring from the penalty spot against Newcastle and Chelsea.
His performances earned him a call-up to the England squad for the recent international break, and he was on the scoresheet again in the team’s 5-0 victory over Andorra last weekend.
However, he is currently serving a suspension at club level, after being sent off at Stamford Bridge earlier this month.
What has Barclay said about Ward-Prowse?
With Ward-Prowse currently unavailable, it provides the opportunity to reflect on what he has managed to achieve in recent years on the South Coast.
Barclay has been impressed by the way the nine-cap international has transformed his game while playing under Hasenhuttl, especially as Ward-Prowse got off to a sticky start when the Austrian joined Southampton.
Speaking about the midfielder’s progression, Barclay told GIVEMESPORT: “I remember when Ralph Hasenhuttl first took over at Southampton, they went to Huddersfield away, and Ward-Prowse was left out of the squad completely. He was at the game but wasn’t even on the bench.
“And the way he’s fought back and really changed his game completely. We always knew his obvious set-piece ability, his technical ability, but he’s become a real battler in the midfield for Southampton, and now is the captain, first name on the teamsheet.”
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How much better can Ward-Prowse get?
Ward-Prowse, who Transfermarkt value at £28.8m, has made major improvements to his game in the last three years, but the best could be yet to come.
He is set to turn 27 at the start of next month, suggesting that he may still have his peak years ahead of him.
Some may claim that he is overly-reliant on his set-piece delivery to stand out in games, but if he can continue to develop his all-round skillset, there is no reason why he can’t get even better.
He is already on the fringes of the England team, and if he can make further improvements under Hasenhuttl over the next 12 months, he could be pushing for a starting berth at the World Cup next year.