Birthday Boy Eyes Spurs Success

By SFC Media Sun 28 Oct Club

James Ward-Prowse prepares to turn 18 next week – and he admits the perfect early birthday present would be a win over Spurs this afternoon.

The youngster has been involved in some capacity – be that as a starter or a substitute – for all ten of Saints' matches so far this season.

And he admits that his life has changed considerably during his 18th year – and he's loving every minute of it.

"I think I've adapted well," says Ward-Prowse.

"The main thing is that I've enjoyed all the games – each one has been different and offered me a new experience that I've benefited from. 

"I just want it to continue now. My aim every week when I start training has been to play in every game I can.

"But it's weird being asked for your autograph and photos because I did that as a youngster many-a-time!

"And I've moved out of home now so there's more responsibility there – part of coming through the academy is the idea that the Club wants us to develop off the pitch as well as on it. 

"They want to develop intelligent footballers so we can look after ourselves off the pitch and be in training on time. 

"I've passed my driving test as well, so the last year's been a massive change."

Today's game could see Ward-Prowse come up against another famous graduate of the Saints Academy, Spurs winger Gareth Bale.

And the central-midfielder says he is fully prepared for the suggestion that he is the latest in a production line of young talent to come out of Staplewood.

"You're always going to be branded like that when you come through this fantastic academy," he concedes. 

"But my main focus is on ensuring I can develop myself into the best player I can be, so I'm always thinking about the next game and the next training session.

"I'd like to emulate Adam Lallana – he's a local boy who's stayed at the club since he was a youngster, and now he's captain of the first team and has had an England call-up. 

"He's a lovely lad and someone I want to be like – he is a perfect example for me. 

"He's stayed loyal having come through this fantastic youth system and now he's clearly a fans' favourite and captain. 

"And it's every English player's ultimate dream to be called up for their country, so it's nice to be around someone who's had that experience. 

"Hopefully he can help me get there, too."

As for shorter-term aims, Ward-Prowse is hoping Saints can take advantage of Spurs' difficult week in which they were beaten by Chelsea before drawing 1-1 away to Slovenian side NK Maribor.

"Last week they were beaten quite convincingly by Chelsea, and they drew last night so it's an ideal time to play them," says James. 

"But we're coming into the game off the back of a heavy defeat so it'll be interesting because both teams will be wanting to get back out there and put the misery of the weekend before behind them.

"It's going to take hard work, and we've shown that every day in training. 

"We're working hard every day to get better as a team, and I'm sure it'll be proven later on in the season that the hard work has paid off."

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