Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse says the pain of not being included in England’s squad for the European Championships motivates him to ensure there will be no repeat ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.
Ward-Prowse, who has 10 caps and two goals to his name for England, was named in Gareth Southgate’s provisional squad for last summer’s European Championships, but the 27-year-old was omitted from the final squad ahead of the tournament.
It meant Ward-Prowse was a spectator as England went on to reach the final, losing on penalties to Italy, and, speaking to Sky Sports, the midfielder has admitted it was a difficult time for him, but he is using it for motivation as he looks to book his spot in Southgate’s squad for Qatar.
England’s next two fixtures…
- Friday September 23: Italy (A) – kick-off 7.45pm
- Monday September 26: Germany (H) – kick-off 7.45pm
“It was difficult to take,” he told Sky Sports about his omission from the Euros squad.
“When you are on your holidays in the summer and you are seeing the success the team is having, of course you are excited for them and pleased for them on one hand, but equally you are gutted that you are not there enjoying it.
“It was kind of trying to find that balance of where I was, but I had to use that as motivation to raise my levels even more to make sure I don’t miss out on another one.”
‘Challenges are always there in sport’
Ward-Prowse added: “You are going to have challenges along the way in sport.
“You are always going to have good moments and bad moments, and it is enjoying the good moments but equally it is how you deal with those bad moments.
“It could have gone either way for me, but I think throughout all the challenges and setbacks I have had back in my career, I always revert back to me and what I can do to affect the situation, and that is to get out onto the training pitch and to show people why I should be there.”
Ward-Prowse has been named in Southgate’s squad for England’s final games before the World Cup selection.
Throughout all the challenges and setbacks I have had back in my career, I always revert back to me and what I can do to affect the situation, and that is to get out onto the training pitch and to show people why I should be there.
The Three Lions face Italy on Friday and Germany on Monday as the players get a final chance to impress on the international stage, and Ward-Prowse is eager to get the call-up for the World Cup in Qatar.
“It would be special,” he said. “I have to perform well enough to get in that squad, and I am feeling as though I’m doing that at the moment.”
England’s 28-man squad in full to face Italy and Germany
Goalkeepers: Dean Henderson, Nick Pope, Aaron Ramsdale.
Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Conor Coady, Eric Dier, Marc Guehi, Reece James, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw, John Stones, Fikayo Tomori, Kieran Trippier, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Jude Bellingham, Mason Mount, Kalvin Phillips, Declan Rice, James Ward-Prowse.
Forwards: Tammy Abraham, Jarrod Bowen, Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka, Raheem Sterling, Ivan Toney.
Capello: Are England mentally strong enough to win the World Cup?
Meanwhile, Fabio Capello has spoken to Sky Sports, giving his views on current Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate as well as England’s chances at the World Cup.
The former England boss has questioned whether England’s players are strong enough mentally to lift the trophy.
“I’m really interested to see who comes out on top at the World Cup in Qatar,” he told Sky Sports.
“As a former England coach when I coached the team in September, October and November, we were ready to face the best sides in the world.
“In March and April, it was so-so because the physical level was dropping and we then found it very tough in June.
“I want to test my theory that England are a great side in this period of the year, so besides having talented players and a top coach, can they really be competitive and win a major tournament such as the World Cup?”
He added: “You said Southgate is under pressure. The only doubt that I have is in the players’ heads.
“The English players feel a sense of responsibility. They might get close to success and then feel that sense of responsibility as a weight on their shoulders.
“If we look at the second half of the [Euros] final against Italy after scoring, they stopped playing and what amazed me was that they were already wasting time on 30 minutes. They were wasting time and didn’t want to play anymore, so they didn’t. That seems to be a mental problem. It’s either a physical or mental problem.
“That is what we’ll find out after the World Cup in Qatar.”
England’s World Cup group B fixtures
November 21: Iran (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick-off 1pm
November 25: USA (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor) – kick-off 7pm
November 29: Wales (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan) – kick-off 7pm
Gareth Southgate has unveiled his final pre-World Cup England squad – but who would make your starting XI?
What would your England starting XI look like if the World Cup started today and all players were available? Use our interactive selector to pick your team below, screenshot your selections and share on Twitter @SkyFootball.