FORMER England and Saints striker Peter Crouch described as “Beckham-esque” James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick technique after his delightful double against Aston Villa.

The Saints skipper, celebrating his 26th birthday, sent two sublime free-kicks into the top corner to help guide Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men to a 4-3 success at Villa Park.

Crouch, who made 31 appearances for Saints between 2004 and 2005, played 24 times alongside Beckham at senior international level.

And he is reminded by the legendary dead-ball specialist when watching Ward-Prowse.

Speaking on BBC’s Match of the Day 2, Crouch said: “There were great performances all over the pitch but the performance was typified by the captain James Ward-Prowse. He was magnificent.

“His all-round performance. We know how deadly he is from set-pieces. It’s just undefendable at times.

“When you’ve got someone in your team like that, who can deliver on a sixpence. It’s just so key.

“These free-kicks were just Beckham-esque. It’s very similar and he’s been doing it for a number of years now.

“The second one – closer to the goal is an even harder skill. To get that up and down against a big wall was magnificent.

“But I thought his all-round game was good – his energy and his enthusiasm.

“He did the dirty side of the work as well – him and Romeu were fantastic in the middle of the park.”

Ward-Prowse also came in for praise from former Arsenal and England defender Martin Keown.

He added: “The top-spin he gets on it is ridiculous. He’s been doing it for years – just don’t give away a free-kick in that sort of area because he’s going to punish you.

Asked whether Ward-Prowse could go to the next level, 54-year-old Keown said: “He played quite a lot of games for the (England) 21s and was he going to be a player that really pushes on? Is he the next sort of James Milner? Someone that wasn’t necessarily given the credit he deserves? Those goals put him right up there.

“He’s certainly really important to what Southampton are doing at the moment.”