JAMES Ward-Prowse’s season started exactly how he wouldn’t have wanted it to.

It went from being exiled under Mark Hughes, to questioning his future at the club he grew up at, only to be topped off by suffering the humiliation of being the 19th man for a trip to Huddersfield.

Now, if you fast forward five months, his season has ended exactly how he would have wanted it to.

He’s become an undroppable member of the team, scored a personal record amount of goals [seven] in a season, played a crucial role in keeping Saints in the Premier League and earned a second England cap for his efforts.

“I’ve always maintained that professionalism and that belief in myself, as a player and person, that I can overcome any situation,” revealed Ward-Prowse.

“For the manager to give me the opportunity was great but then it was up to me to make sure that I do what he wants so that I can stay in the team.

“I think I’ve done that so far and I want to finish the season as strong as I can.

“I can’t really remember a lot of [the first half of the season] it if I’m being honest.

“I wasn’t playing a massive part in what we were doing, and I was a very frustrated player on the side and in the stands.

“It’s been such an up-and-down season but, from Christmas onwards, it’s been nothing but positive and I’ve enjoyed probably my most favourable moments and run in the team.

“It has been a massive turnaround which is partly down to the manager and partly down to me. I needed to go and show him that I should be in the team. I am finishing on a high for sure.”

Ward-Prowse, who had a mixed start to his time under Ralph Hasenhuttl, went onto admit that even he couldn’t picture things working out the way they have done.

“I think it’s hard to look that far ahead,” the Saints midfielder continued.

“You kind of have to take it week-by-week, especially when a new manager comes in because you never what can happen.

“You can either be straight in, or out and then in.

“I bided my time and waited for my opportunity, but I maintained that preparation for games and when the opportunity came along I knew I had to take it.”

Although the domestic football season is coming to an end this Sunday, there is a good chance Ward-Prowse will be involved with the England squad again.

Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions will begin their quest for Nations League silverware when they travel to Holland at the beginning of June for the semi-final.

Should they beat ex-Saint Ronald Koeman’s Dutch side, they will go up against either Portugal or Switzerland in the final.
And given that Ward-Prowse has a solid relationship with Southgate, there is every possibility he will be called up for national duty.

When questioned about his chances of selection, Ward-Prowse said: “I’m hopeful.

“You want to represent your country at every opportunity.

“It will be a chance, in an England shirt, to win some silverware. I will be desperate to be a part of the squad but that’s out of my hands.

“I have to do what I do for the club and if I do that well, then hopefully that call will come.

“He [Gareth Southgate] obviously knows me well from the Under-21s days and he knows what character I am off the pitch and what I can bring onto the pitch.

“It’s a good relationship and it’s nice to be in the squad when he is the manager because you know he creates a great environment for players to go out and express themselves”

After a possible link-up with England, Ward-Prowse will be getting himself ready for a pre-season led by Hasenhuttl.

The majority of Saints’ preparations for next season will take place in Dublin, Austria and Staplewood, with a select number of players heading to Macau for a one-off match.

And because Hasenhuttl joined the club during December, it will be his first real opportunity to mould the team in his image.

He added: “When the manager came in it was during the Christmas period, so we weren’t able to have a lot of time doing tactical work.

“We’ll have six weeks with him to really nail down what he wants tactically and how he wants us to play.

“It’s something that I am very excited to be a part of. From the physical side, I have always been able to run a lot – I can get about the pitch.

“I’ve never been the strongest, biggest or the quickest, but I have been able to do what I can with the attributes I have.”

Ward-Prowse has managed to learn the importance of finding the perfect balance in his personal and professional life.

His baby son, Oscar, has given the England international a new lease of life off the pitch which has played a significant part in his remarkable turnaround of form on it.

Instead of going home in a foul mood after a loss, the midfielder realises there is much more to life than three points on a Saturday.

“It takes your mind off football,” he continued.

“You don’t think about the bad game you played or the bad result because you have got other, more important things to look after and sort out.

“It’s taken the pressure off me in a massive way and I feel like I’ve definitely benefitted from it.

“I think it helps because you go onto the pitch thinking that the worst-case scenario is that we lose, or I have a bad game. You’ve got something better at home. 

“It’s a balancing act you have to have. I feel like a more mature person now than I ever have before.”