Saturday, 15 March 2014

Wonderkid #7 - James Ward-Prowse:

Hello again everyone and welcome to my latest blog post, where I have the 7th installment of my wonderkid series. 

Today, I am reviewing Southampton's teenage midfield gem James Ward-Prowse who has impressed scouts and media alike after his eye-catching displays in midfield for one of the best teams in the league (on-form and in terms of youth talent)

Ward- Prowse is just one of the many young stars in the current crop of Southampton players

For club and country: Ward-Prowse is heavily tipped to be an England regular in the senior team in a few years, currently playing for the U21's side

  • He was born in Portsmouth, and joined the Southampton Academy at the age of eight
  • He played in every match for the under-18 team in the 2010-11 season, before becoming a full-time scholar in 2011
  • He was called up to the senior team in October 2011, making his full debut for the first-team at the age of 16 against Crystal Palace in the League Cup 
  • He scored in his second starting appearance for the first-team, against Coventry City in the FA Cup 3rd Round
  • James was one of the four youth players who were offered a professional contract along with Jack Stephens, Luke Shaw and Calum Chambers
  • He made his EPL debut for The Saints on the opening day of the 2012-13 season against Manchester City, with then-manager Niger Adkins describing his performance as "outstanding"
  • As a result of continued transfer speculation over his potential future at the club and a move elsewhere, he signed a five-year contract extension deal to stop the rumours and allow him to concentrate on football
  • He won the "Scholar of the Season" accolade at the Southampton club awards ceremony last May, beating academy team-mates such as Luke Shaw to win
Ward-Prowse won the "Scholar of the Season" award last May in his breakthrough season

His superb performances for Southampton earned him a place in the England under-21 team, receiving his first call-up to the U21's from manager Gareth Southgate at the age of 18. He has played an integral part of the qualification matches for his country, and has continued to shine in the heart of midfield for Southampton.

Even though he has not been given the time or patience to start and end a whole 90 minute match over the past few months, flashes of creative genius have been shown, which will be rewarded eventually as he tries to prove his worth to manager Mauricio Pochettino. 

His stats - internationally and for Southampton: 

Southampton (2011-present): 51 appearances (most from bench), 1 goal

England U-17: 7 appearances, no goals 
England U-19: 4 appearances, no goals
England U-20: 3 appearances, no goals
England U-20: 7 appearances, 2 goals

His potential and talent are limitless, he has shown his willingness to succeed and the determination and focus to do well are clearly evident - based on the fact that he would rather stay at Southampton and work on his skills than move to a big club so early on in his career where he is likely to sit and watch from the bench.   

He has even been subject to a few shouts for a potential senior England call-up for the World Cup in Brazil this summer, provided he can continue his confident form and the midfield depth is not that strong - you never know.. 

His skills:
  • His free-kicks. Curling, swerving, power, pace and dip. One of the best free-kick takers in the EPL, he practices constantly so that he can get even better. 
  • His pace. He doesn't need to use it that often, but he has quick and effective acceleration over short bursts especially to fight for the ball from an opponent
  • Tactical awareness and vision. He is a central midfielder, and most of these young midfielders struggle with composure and their technique. He is not one of them. He can string a 50-yard pass in seconds, move into spaces, create gaps in the defence and easily set up a counter attack with the ball at his feet.
I can seriously imagine Ward-Prowse in a team with Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere and Lallana. That would be exciting to watch!

Potential, just needs time and patience: James Ward-Prowse is certainly one to watch.