Hasenhuttl feels Ward-Prowse’s England call-up is ‘big signal’ for Southampton
The midfielder won his second international cap in Montenegro.
Ralph Hasenhuttl believes James Ward-Prowse’s England recall is a “big signal” for Southampton and says the player has returned to the south coast full of confidence.
Midfielder Ward-Prowse was rewarded for his impressive club form by ending a two-year wait for his second international cap.
The 24-year-old, who came on as a substitute in his country’s 5-1 Euro 2020 qualifying win in Montenegro on Monday, has hit six Premier League goals in 10 top-flight games in 2019 to push Saints closer to safety.
“I spoke with him, he was very happy about playing for England, he had a good time,” said manager Hasenhuttl at his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton.
“It’s a big signal for the team and for the club that a player like Prowsey is now part of the national team.
“But the most important thing is that Prowsey knows that to be part of England he must have good performances in Southampton and he’s a fantastic professional guy.
“He’s happy to come back and showed immediately that he’s full of self-confidence and wants to continue his good performances.”
Ward-Prowse’s recent goals included a sensational free-kick winner against Tottenham before the international break.
The stunning set-piece, which followed a similar strike in the defeat at Manchester United a week earlier, means Saints are two points above the relegation zone with eight fixtures remaining.
Hasenhuttl enjoyed a conversation with national team manager Gareth Southgate at Tuesday’s Under-21 match between England and Germany in Bournemouth.
“He was very open-minded for me and told me everything that he expects from Prowsey and how happy he is that we give young English players the opportunity to play in Southampton – that’s why he’s often in our stadium watching them,” said Hasenhuttl.
“I told him that if we have the chance to develop those young players we will do it and if we can help him sending him good players then he will be happy.”
After appearing to lose his way at St Mary’s under Mark Hughes, Ward-Prowse has become one of the first names on the team-sheet under Hasenhuttl.
He is likely to be joined in Saints’ squad on Saturday by top scorer Danny Ings following the striker’s recovery from a hamstring problem which has kept him sidelined since the start of February.
Speaking about on-loan Liverpool man Ings, Hasenhuttl added: “For him it’s important that he has all the time he needs to come back. I think he’s now in good shape.
“If it’s enough for 90 minutes or from the beginning (of the game) I don’t know. If not, he’s a good substitution.”
Weekend opponents Brighton are three points better off than Saints with a game in hand.
And Hasenhuttl anticipates a tight encounter at the Amex Stadium.
“It will be an interesting game. I expect a game with a lot of intensity, a lot of speed. It is also a team waiting for good counter-attacks,” he said.
“For us that means to find the right balance between defensively organised but also a good transition forward.”