Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse is targeting a spot in England’s 2022 World Cup squad after missing out on Euro 2020.
The midfielder suffered the heartache of missing out on the England squad for this summer’s delayed Euros after being named among a 26-man provisional party, and watched from his armchair as Gareth Southgate’s men fell just short of glory.
However, that pain is fuelling the 27-year-old’s drive to ensure that he is on the plane to Qatar when the world’s best teams get together next year.
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Ward-Prowse told the PA news agency: “Of course I had the disappointment from the summer, but to see them be so successful and the way they handled themselves is a big inspiration to me to be back in amongst that group and hopefully be successful as well.
“You have setbacks in your career, you have challenges. Some go your way and some don’t and you have to be resilient and maintain that belief in yourself that you can be playing at that level.
“Going away from that camp gave me that hunger and desire to be back there soon. To be sat at home watching them be successful on the one hand was difficult, but equally, it was really good.
“It was a tough time, but I need to be doing my talking on the pitch at Southampton and give myself that platform to get back into the squad.”
If World Cup dreams provide one focus for Ward-Prowse, another will be his blossoming reputation as a Premier League dead-ball specialist.
His goal in a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on December 15 was his 11th direct from a free-kick, a Premier League record bettered only by Gianfranco Zola and Thierry Henry on 12 and former England captain David Beckham with 18, and he has high hopes of reeling in a man he idolised as a young player.
Asked if he could catch Beckham, he said: “We don’t get too many opportunities in games, so when those come along, it’s a big moment.
“Hopefully I can reach that or surpass him, that would be incredible. I’ve got a bit of time, but we’ll see.”
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