James Ward-Prowse doesn’t want to have another relaxing international break – and insists he is focussed on forcing his way back into the Saints and England set-up.

The midfielder has been away for pretty much every international fortnight for years as part of the England under-21 squad and, more recently, when winning his first cap with Gareth Southgate’s full Three Lions team.

However, this time, after a difficult start to the season which has seen him struggle to hold down a place in Mauricio Pellegrino’s starting line-up, Ward-Prowse finds himself with time on his hands.

He has been beavering away at Staplewood trying to impress Pellegrino for what he hopes will be a return to the team when Saints host Newcastle a week on Sunday and, ultimately, the chance to get back to the England side.

He said: “It’s every player’s ultimate dream to play for England.

“I am lucky enough to have had that experience and I want to be back there as quickly as possible, but ultimately I have to be playing at the club to warrant and show the manager I am good enough to be in the England squad. I am eager and keen to do that.

“As a player you always criticise yourself when things aren’t too good, and you look at what you need to do to be in the team.

“Every player goes through these sorts of periods and you need to find a way to keep your head and keep focussed on what you want to achieve, and I feel as though I am doing that well and it’s just a case of taking an opportunity when it comes my way.”

Ward-Prowse has found himself starting the last three games on the bench, and searching for his best role in Pellegrino’s vision for Saints.

“I have always played in a deeper midfield role, and that’s where I see myself playing,” he reflected. “I spoke to him about it and about playing a more advanced and attacking role, which of course I am willing to as well.

“I am willing to fit in to play any system the manager wants me to play in and I am always learning and trying to develop my game in different areas.

“That’s an ongoing process which is a challenge but it’s a good one at that.”

He added: “I think it helps with getting a regular starting role in the team. It gives you that confidence and belief in yourself and that’s how I got into the England squad last year, because I had that positive feeling and regular games.

“All aspects of your game you are always looking to improve and I want to do different things so I am generally trying to improve everything.

“You have got to be ready for the chance, and whether you are on the bench or starting the game you have to be ready for any situation.

“Starting or not you have to keep your head and make sure you are focussed on the job ahead.”