Premier League

Forget Winks: Southgate must pick this £13.5m-rated Southampton ace in next England squad

Southampton supporters have been rejoicing in the Transfer Tavern in the last few hours after news emerged that manager Mauricio Pellegrino has been sacked by the club given their precarious position in the Premier League.

The 46-year-old replaced Claude Puel in the summer in a bid to bring a more entertaining and exciting style of football to St Mary’s, yet things turned out to be a struggle for the former Alaves chief, who oversaw just five Premier League wins from his 30 matches in charge. And last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at the hands of fellow relegation candidates Newcastle was the final straw for the Spaniard, with a Kenedy brace alongside Matt Ritchie’s strike bringing to an end Pellegrino’s short stint in charge of the Saints.

Thus, there have been many happy Southampton fans in the Tavern in recent times, with several calling for a change to be made many weeks ago given the club’s lowly league position, with the South Coast outfit 17th in the Premier League with eight matches to go.

In the meantime though, there have been other bits of news for our resident Saints supporters to discuss, not least recent reports that Tottenham midfielder Harry Winks is fearing for his place at the World Cup with England following a recent ankle problem, with it unlikely that he’ll make his squad for the upcoming friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy.

As such, manager Gareth Southgate should forget about the 22-year-old, and instead pick £13.5 million-rated James Ward-Prowse (as per Transfermarkt) in his next England squad, which is announced on Thursday.

Ultimately, the 23-year-old has already earned a senior cap for his country to suggest that he is already in Southgate’s thoughts, having come on for the last ten minutes in their 1-0 friendly defeat to Germany back in March 2017.

And while he hasn’t made a squad since then, much of that could be pinned down to his struggles for regular football at Southampton, with the midfielder starting just nine times this season up until the New Year, and contributing just one assist in the process.

However, Ward-Prowse has been much-improved and thus a more regular feature in the Saints first team since the turn of year, starting eight of their nine Premier League games alongside two of their three FA Cup ties, in which time he has bagged four goals and laid on two assists to underline his status as one of Southampton’s most influential players.

Ultimately though, it’s clear the sort of quality that Ward-Prowse brings to the football field, be it his deadly set piece delivery from corners and free-kicks, or his incredible eye for a pass and vision in the final third.

And given that he has featured more prominently down the right-hand side for Southampton this season, as opposed to his more natural central midfield position, the 23-year-old offers the sort of versatility that could be important to Southgate to utilise in the coming friendly matches.

With 31 appearances at Under-21 level, as well as success in the Toulon Tournament back in 2016, Southgate will know first-hand of the qualities the midfielder would bring to his England squad, and while he hasn’t won anything at senior level, that tournament-winning experience can only be a good thing to have around the squad.

And with it seeming as though England have slight concerns in the centre-midfield department, the Three Lions chief should forget about recalling an injured Winks to the squad, and instead call up Southampton’s Ward-Prowse once again, 12 months after his debut.

Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!

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