SAINTS boss Ralph Hasenhuttl made it his mission to turn James Ward-Prowse into a tough-tackling midfielder.

Ward-Prowse has been widely praised for his recent run of form, which includes three goals in his last five matches.

He also showed a ruthless edge to get his game when he riled Wilfried Zaha in the build-up to the Crystal Palace winger getting himself sent off.

Daily Echo: Ward-Prowse celebrates his recent goal against Everton with Nathan RedmondWard-Prowse celebrates his recent goal against Everton with Nathan Redmond

Hasenhuttl said: “I think I was very clear and very honest to him, which I think helps him a lot.

“I think Prowsey has made a good development with his aggression because that’s what I missed from him the most when I came here.

“He is a good footballing player and a nice guy, but now he showed that he can also be aggressive, win duels, win balls back and with his physical quality he can nearly play in every position.”

As well as cementing his spot in the heart Saints’ midfield, Ward-Prowse has also shown he’s capable to play as a full back.

The 24-year-old has featured at the back against Manchester City, Crystal Palace, and most recently, Burnley.

Given that he couldn’t get any minutes on the pitch when Mark Hughes was in charge of Saints, this shows the level of trust Hasenhuttl has in him.

Full backs are essential to the Austrian’s tactical plans, as it’s down to them to provide the width and deliver balls into the box for their teammates to feast on.

Although he didn’t score against Burnley, he did manage to get on the end of Matt Targett’s cross to equalise in the match with Palace.

Daily Echo: Saints manager Ralph HasenhuttlSaints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl

And Hasenhuttl revealed his ability to get in scoring positions is a mark of Ward-Prowse’s confidence. 

Saints’ chief added: “He showed us against Crystal Palace that he can score as a full back, as in the moment he scored, he was playing as a full back.

“I think this goal in this position you only score if you really wanted to – if you really go for it.

“As a full back to be in this position was perfect play from us, good deep runs which is what we are always demanding, and then they are shifting, shifting and shifting until it comes to the moment where they are one man less to defend this space and that’s exactly what we tried to do always.

“It was really calm finishing, not without thinking, but with the inside of the foot into the far side.

“It was perfect and shows how comfortable he feels right now in front of goal and how much self-confidence he has at the moment.”