James Ward-Prowse speaks about importance of first-team football for England youngsters
England v Lithuania
UEFA European U21 Championship
Qualifying Group One
6pm, Tuesday 15 October 2013
Portman Road, Ipswich Town FC
Live on BT Sport
James Ward-Prowse says that playing regular first-team football has helped him to make his mark on the international scene.
The Southampton midfielder has been a regular at St. Mary’s over the last 18 months and that has helped him become an established player with England at U19, U20 and now Under-21 level.
And the 18-year-old revealed that he’s taken ‘responsibility’ for himself to make sure that he’s never far from the team for both Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino and Three Lions head coach Gareth Southgate.
Ward-Prowse said: “I think if you can play regularly with your club, it helps you feel confident, strong and physically fit as well.
“For every player, it’s important to be playing regularly and I’ve taken responsibility to stay on the pitch and do a bit extra after training to make sure I’m up to that standard.
“It’s incredibly important for every youngster to be given a chance and when you come here there are quality players day in and day out so you keep progressing and learning.
“Coming into the squad as a new member has been really good and everyone has been very welcoming to us.”
After playing a key role in England’s 4-0 victory over San Marino last week, Ward-Prowse and his team-mates are now preparing to face Lithuania on Tuesday evening.
And after working with Southgate and his assistant coach Steve Holland over the last week, he feels there is more than enough talent to collect three points at Portman Road.
“I think the gaffer and Steve Holland have got the best out of us in training,” he added.
“If you look right from the goalkeepers to the forwards, there’s a wealth of good players here.
“We’re all desperate to play for England and desperate to play for our clubs.
“We can’t have any complacency in any game and we were expected to go out and win in San Marino last week and it’s the same on Tuesday.
“That’s our job as footballers to go out and do the job that we did and that’s the mentality of our group.”
Ward-Prowse has his own ambition to progress in his career too and after seeing Under-21s squad mate Raheem Sterling join up with the senior squad on Sunday, acknowledges there is a pathway there.
And with the Under-21s squad all at Wembley to see the victory over Montenegro last Friday, they will be keeping a close eye on Tuesday’s game at Wembley which takes place after their own game.
“It’s great to see the youngsters being given a chance at Under-21 level and in the first team,” he said.
“We were in and around Raheem last week and he’s now gone up to the squad for the Poland game. That gives us all an incentive to progress.
“We went and watched them the other night, so it’s always great to watch them and learn from that.”