Southampton: James Ward-Prowse ready for 'biggest year'

Ward-Prowse ready to fill Lallana shoes

Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse says he is ready for the biggest season of his career - and is up to the task of replacing Adam Lallana.

Former captain Lallana joined Liverpool in July but Ward-Prowse, 19, believes he can become the club's new talisman.

"It's a massive season," Ward-Prowse told BBC South Today. "It's probably the biggest year of my career so far.

"Last season was a bit of a struggle in terms of starts, it would be good to maintain a place throughout the year."

He added: "They are big shoes to fill and Adam was a fantastic player for the club and a fans' favourite, and hopefully that is the sort of role I'm looking to take on myself."

Ward-Prowse's England under-age career
James Ward-Prowse has been capped at Under-17, Under-19, Under-20 and Under-21 level by England.
After captaining the Under-19 team in 2013, he he was named in manager Peter Taylor's 21-man squad for the 2013 Under-20 World Cup.
He also played in this summer's Toulon Under-21 tournament, winning the goal of the tournament award as England finished fourth.
Source: The Football Associationexternal-link

As well as Lallana, Saints have also lost Luke Shaw, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Calum Chambers, plus manager Mauricio Pochettino.

But Ward-Prowse says the current squad have been impressed with new boss Ronald Koeman and it is now up to the remaining players to fill the void left by the summer exodus.

"The new management team has come in and done very well and we have all warmed to them," he explained. "He is different in terms of how he wants to play but all the lads are really thriving under him and looking forward to playing under him. It's not as intense as the last regime.

"Last year was a big season, we've lost a lot of players and it's up to us to step up and maintain the level the club is at and push on and achieve European football.

"It was disappointing as they were key players and played a massive part in the success of this club."

James Ward-Prowse
Ward-Prowse has scored three goals in 10 appearances for England Under-21s

England Under-21 international Ward-Prowse played 39 times in all competitions last season, with nearly half of those appearances as a substitute.

He says the move of former team-mate and good friend Shaw to Manchester United has spurred him on even more ahead of the new campaign.

"Luke was a good friend of mine," he added. "I shared a lot of memories with him but this is football, I wish him and the rest all the best.

"Luke has done terrifically well and to see him achieve it at such a young age is an inspiration for me."