SAINTS star James Ward-Prowse wants to shake off the ‘academy boy’ tag he has been labelled with.

Ward-Prowse rose through the youth ranks at Staplewood and is often viewed as the example the current crop of youngsters should be following.

However, now that he has found his feet under the guidance of Ralph Hasenhuttl, the England international wants to move away from the nice guy image.

"Having come through the academy at Southampton I have always been known as the academy boy, the way to go," Ward-Prowse said.

"Since the new manager at Southampton came in, he mentioned a few things I needed to change, and I took that on board.

"I want to get away from that perception of the Southampton academy boy. That's not what I want to be anymore.

"He [Hasenhuttl] told me to be a bit more aggressive, to try and stamp my authority a bit more on what's going on, so it was a good conversation I had, and I respected the way he approached me with that.

"I have the utmost respect for him. He told me my strengths, my weaknesses and I feel I have benefited from that."

Now that Ward-Prowse is moving away from the nice guy image, with extra bite and aggression in his game bringing about an upturn in fortunes at Saints and a return to the England set-up.

Two years on from his one and only senior cap in Germany, the midfielder was brought into the squad on Monday after injuries took their toll on Gareth Southgate's squad.

Eyebrows were raised at Ward-Prowse's initial omission after performing so impressively for Saints, having scored six goals since the turn of the year and improving his all-round game under Hasenhuttl.

Long considered to be a nice, technically-gifted midfielder, the Austrian has made him tackle more and play with aggression and the kind of edge epitomised by his reaction to Wilfried Zaha's sending off in January.

"I think that's pretty summed it up well," Ward-Prowse said with a smile.

"It is a good thing to be nice but to get to a certain level you have to have that bite and difference and ultimately, I want to play week in, week out and if the manager demands certain things of me, I have to abide by it and change my ways.

"I feel I have benefited as a person and as a player from those changes."