England U21s captaincy an honour, says Ward-Prowse

Wednesday 02 Sep 2015
James Ward-Prowse has been named as the new England Under-21s captain
James Ward-Prowse has spoken of his joy at being selected as the new England Under-21s captain.

The Southampton playmaker succeeds Jack Butland as skipper for Gareth Southgate’s side, who begin their campaign with a game against USA’s U23s in Preston on Thursday.

And the 20-year-old, who has previously captained the Three Lions at U19 and U20 level, says he cannot wait to take the armband and get started.

England v USA

International Match
7.45pm, Thursday 3 September 2015
Deepdale, Preston North End FC
Live on BT Sport
Tickets £10 adults, £5 concessions
Call 0844 856 1966 or e-mail ticketoffice@pne.com

"It’s a great honour, everybody’s dream is to play for England and represent their country at the highest level and to get the honour of the armband is a great privilege for me and something that I’m going to cherish," said Ward-Prowse, who has 13 caps for the U21s.

"Being a captain is something that has always been a big driving force of mine and something I’ve always wanted to do.

"So I’m lucky that I’ve been given the privilege of doing it and I can’t wait to take the armband."

Ward-Prowse was a regular under Southgate throughout the last campaign as the Three Lions breezed through qualification before missing out at the group stages of the Euro Finals earlier this summer.

A popular member of the squad with both players and staff alike, he was seen as Butland’s vice-captain when leading the U20s out in the Toulon Tournament of 2014.

And regardless of his status as skipper, Ward-Prowse admits he always tries to take on a leadership role within the team and also has support of some of his equally experienced squad-mates.

"I think with or without the armband, I’m always trying to lead the team and be a good communicator to try and lead by example," he explained.

James Ward-Prowse in training with England Under-21s at St. George

New captain James Ward-Prowse is one of the most popular players in the England U21s squad

"We had a good meeting when we arrived and there’s a real leadership group now, five or six of us to come together and make sure things in the team are running smoothly.

"With a number of players in the team who can contribute to that, it will stand the team in good stead."

Despite the ultimate disappointment suffered during the summer tournament in Czech Republic, Ward-Prowse says focus must now be on the future.

And with their first Euro Qualifier coming up next Monday against Norway in Drammen, he is positive about the prospects for Southgate’s new-look squad.

"We didn’t perform when it mattered [in the summer], but from these tournament experiences we can all take a good learning curve from it," he said.

"But I’m looking forward to the next two years. We’ve got a new squad together and having seen the first few days of training, there’s a lot of quality coming through. 

"It’s a really good mix, we’ve got a lot of different qualities all over the pitch and I’m ready to be a part of this team and it’s going be an exciting journey over the next two years to get to Poland."

Tickets for Thursday’s game game are priced at just £10 for adults and £5 for children, with a family ticket (two adults and two children) costing £20 and group bookings of 15+ working out at £5 for adults and £1 for children.

Season ticket holders at Deepdale can also claim half price tickets and concessions for U18s, over 65s and students (on production of valid ID) are £5. Call 0844 856 1966 for details or e-mail: ticketoffice@pne.com

By Nicholas Veevers At St. George's Park