SAINTS skipper James Ward-Prowse has identified two England greats he hopes to emulate as he continues to establish himself in the international arena.
Ward-Prowse, 25, could earn his fifth senior England cap tomorrow when the Three Lions host Denmark at Wembley in the Nations League (7.45pm).
Having made his debut back in March 2017, the midfielder has had to wait a long time to return to the fold under Gareth Southgate, but made his first start for his country in last month’s win in Iceland.
And whilst he is some way off the number of caps achieved by icons of his position in the past, Ward-Prowse says he looks to learn from former Liverpool and Chelsea heroes Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who each racked up more than 100 England appearances.
“They typify a midfielder,” Ward-Prowse told the Daily Echo when asked if he looked up to any previous England stars.
“Box-to-box with lots of energy, could score goals, good technical ability and I want to try and replicate those sorts of players.
“The likes of Gerrard and Lampard, they were the guys I tried to emulate.”
Two years passed between Ward-Prowse’s debut against Germany and his second cap, away at Montenegro in 2019.
But after a standout campaign in 2019-20, where the Portsmouth-born ace didn’t miss a minute of Premier League action as Saints recovered from a slow start to finish in 11th, he has returned to Southgate’s squads for each of the past two camps.
He featured from the bench in last week’s 3-0 win over Wales, before remaining an unused substitute during the clash with Belgium on Sunday as England moved top of their Nations League group.
“It’s always an honour to be representing your country,” said Ward-Prowse.
“I will look to make the most of the opportunity and learn as much as I can. If the minutes come my way, to make sure I give it my all and give myself a good chance to show what I can do.”
Asked if a spot in the squad for next summer’s European Championship is in his mind, the midfielder continued: “I think at the start of the season you always look at what you want to achieve and how the season will hopefully pan out.
“My main focus is doing everything right for Southampton and making sure we do well.
“If the national team come calling with the Euros in the summer, then that would be a real positive and a real bonus.”