Ralph Hasenhuttl has been boosted by the news this week that James Ward-Prowse is back in Southampton training and is in contention for today’s game against Everton.
There were doubts that the club captain would be fit enough to feature at Goodison Park for the Saints’ Premier League opener after he missed much of pre-season with a knee injury.
Despite missing the friendly games against Levante, Cardiff City, Swansea City and Athletic Bilbao, the 26-year-old looks likely to start against Rafa Benitez’s side on Saturday after making his return to training earlier this week.
Hasenhuttl confirmed that the England international has proved his fitness in time for the game, saying: “He is going to be okay. I am looking forward to seeing him back on Saturday.”
Considering that Ward-Prowse has played every single minute in consecutive Premier League seasons for Southampton, it would have been a huge blow to have him missing for the opening fixture, as the Saints look to win their opening game of the season for the first time since 2013.
The 26-year-old was the Saints’ most consistent performer last season, continuing to impress despite their slide down the Premier League table in 2021, and it seems clear that he will be hugely important once again this campaign, especially following the departures of Danny Ings and Jannik Vestergaard.
Ward-Prowse contributed eight goals and seven assists in 38 Premier League appearances in 2020/21, averaging an impressive 7.07 rating from WhoScored for his performances, which was comfortably the best of any Saints player.
Therefore, it is vital that he stays fit this season, as without him you’d worry that Southampton could get dragged into a relegation battle should they continue their woeful form from the second half of last season.
However, it seems as if he will be starting Saturday’s game against Everton, and Southampton fans will surely be delighted to see him feature and will count on him to help them earn a rare win at Goodison Park.
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