JAMES Ward-Prowse admitted he was pleased to score his first of the Premier League season but claims Saints were “punished” for not being active long enough.
The 27-year-old English international opened the scoring for Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side in their eventual 4-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the capital.
Ward-Prowse hit 10 league goals for the first time in his career last campaign, and made a perfect start this season as he hunts a spot at the Qatar World Cup in three months.
Ryan Sessegnon and Eric Dier scored before half-time to put Antonio Conte’s team back in control, before a Mohammed Salisu own goal and Dejan Kulusevski finished the job.
“It was a positive start and I think we did well to get through that initial period of pressure and energy from them,” Ward-Prowse told the club website, assessing the match.
“Playing against a Champions League team we know the level of they’re capable of. We took a lot of confidence into the game having obviously performed well here last year.
“But it was a disappointing end to the game and when you don’t perform well for 90 minutes these teams will punish you.”
He continued: “The message at half-time was to stay in the game, they were only a goal ahead and the next goal was key in the game to be honest.
“We didn’t start the half very well with the goal disallowed and that was a wakeup call for us. When you’re not active and on it for the whole 90 minutes of the game these players will punish you, that’s what happened today.”
Ward-Prowse is operating in a tweaked role with Hasenhuttl switching to a midfield three, in front of a back-five.
With 18-year-old Romeo Lavia sitting the deepest of the trio, Ward-Prowse has license to roam and was taking up a significantly advances position on Saturday.
“I think playing slightly further forward allows me to get those positions and get in the box on the end of the balls,” the captain assessed.
“That’s a positive and something I’m looking to add to my game for sure but I’m more interested in the all-round picture of the team, the way we’re playing and making sure we’re getting more results and not personal accolades.
“Year on year you want to improve and you want to beat last year’s records for assists and goals, so that’s something in the back of my head. But it’s hard to look at that now, it’s more about the targets for the team and the way we develop playing.”
Hasenhuttl handed three Premier League debuts from the start at Spurs, with Lavia also joined by goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu and former Rangers star Joe Aribo.
“They all came in and did fantastically well, regardless of the result they can all come off the pitch with their head held high,” Ward-Prowse assisted.
“They’ve performed at a high level and this is a good wakeup call for everyone. It shows once again that if you’re not at it 100 per cent of the time you’ll get punished.
“We’ll have to learn that very quickly and it’s up to the senior players in the team to help with that.”
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