James Ward-Prowse’s sensational free-kick to beat Spurs last time out capped off the latest in a string of fantastic performances from the midfielder, who was – eventually – rewarded for his exploits with an England call-up this week.
The 5 ft 8 ace was certainly deserving of the honour having netted six goals in his last nine league appearances, including three in his last three – a fantastic turnaround after a tough first few months of the season, in which he was benched regularly by Mark Hughes.
Now, though, Ralph Hasenhuttl is in charge and the Austrian has placed huge amounts of faith in the number 16, who has now highlighted the major change that has been made to his game in 2019:
“It is a good thing to be nice but to get to a certain level you have to have that bite and difference and ultimately, I want to play week in, week out and if the manager demands certain things of me, I have to abide by it and change my ways.
“I feel I have benefited as a person and as a player from those changes.”
Watch how to cross the road like a boss with freestyler Ben Nuttall in the video below…
Indeed, the singularly-capped international was widely regarded as that nice, young player from the academy, although now he has shaken that off – a development epitomised by his reaction to Wilfried Zaha’s dismissal in the draw with Crystal Palace in January.
There is certainly more verve about the Saints star’s game and while the difference made by his free-kicks now hitting the top corner consistently rather than not is huge, that ‘bite’ is equally important when you’re in a relegation battle. Wonder-goals aside, the local lad has come on leaps and bounds since Hasenhuttl’s arrival and both deserve huge credit.