Southampton youngster James Ward-Prowse braced for Norwich City test
- Credit: PA
Southampton starlet James Ward-Prowse admits his trip to Carrow Road last season proved something of an eye-opener.
The 18-year-old made a second-half appearance in a gruelling goalless Premier League affair played in wretched conditions, but Ward-Prowse viewed his trip to Norfolk as an important toughening up exercise. The attacking midfielder has started both top-flight games in the new campaign and the teenager aims to prove how far he has come against the Canaries this afternoon after being rested for the midweek cup win over Barnsley.
'We're looking forward to going there,' he said. 'Last year it was a real tough challenge for us with the weather conditions, but hopefully at this time of year they won't be so bad and they will be more conducive to our style of play. It was a good awakening for all of us. It was the first time we suffered really bad weather, so hopefully the sun will be shining this time at Carrow Road.
'I was just happy to be in and around the squad on Tuesday and to see some of the young lads come onto the pitch. I was there to support them because that was me a couple of years ago, so it was good for me just to be there to help them through. Hopefully I'm all rested up now and ready to go for this weekend.'
Chris Hughton's side were punished by Everton's Ross Barkley, pictured below, in a vibrant goalscoring display on the opening day of the new season.
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The Toffees' youngster has now been drafted into the England senior squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers and Ward-Prowse views Barkley's elevation as an incentive to the rest of the new brigade after earning his first England Under-21 call-up earlier this week.
'It's the next step on the international ladder, and it's one away from the first team,' he told the Saints' official site. 'You've seen the likes of Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend do it, so it's in the back of my mind that if I can carry on my good form hopefully I can push my way in there. To be called up for the under-21s at my age is a real achievement for me, so I'm happy with that. I'll just concentrate on myself and the club, and I will be recognised if I'm doing well. I'll meet up with the team, try to impress the manager and take it from there.'
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Mauricio Pochettino has entrusted Ward-Prowse with responsibility for set-pieces during the early weeks of the new campaign and the teenager delivered for Jose Fonte's 88th-minute equaliser, against Sunderland last time out.
'It's nice to have that responsibility, and I am embracing that and the pressure of it,' he said. 'I model myself on the likes of Steven Gerrard and David Beckham, who are set-piece experts. I stay out for an extra half-hour or so after training to take a few corners, free-kicks and shots so that I'm in the mindset for the weekend. If you can put the ball in the right area when you've got people like (Rickie) Lambert and José in the box, you know they'll put it in the back of the net.'