JAMES Ward-Prowse believes becoming Saints’ pantomime villain has added a string to his bow.

The midfielder showed signs of a ruthless edge last season when he played his role in Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha sent off at St Mary’s.

And then at Selhurst Park in January, in front of the Palace crowd, he pretended to open his pocket, suggesting Zaha was inside it.

Speaking to the Daily Echo before Covid-19 brought a halt to football, Ward-Prowse said: “It’s been a bit of a strange situation to be in but it’s a part of my game that I’ve been able to add to.

“It’s just the way it’s gone."

Asked if becoming Saints’ Mr Nasty gives him a buzz on the pitch, the 25-year-old added: “Definitely.

“It’s something a bit different to maybe what people expect and see on the face of things.

“But it’s become a part of my all-round game now and it’s something I have to include as it helps me in my performances.”

Before football was brought to a halt, Ward-Prowse had been featuring at right back as opposed to his usual central midfield position.

Manager Ralph Hasenhuttl opted to go with the experienced Saint instead of January signing Kyle Walker-Peters.

Although he did a sterling job in defence, Ward-Prowse admits he was itching to play alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in the middle of the park.

When questioned if he missed playing in central midfield, Ward-Prowse said: “Of course.

“It’s my natural position and it’s where I’ve played my best football for the club.

“I like being versatile and I’ve done that since being a young lad in the academy.

“I enjoyed filling in and that’s football sometimes, you can’t always play where you want to play.”

Ward-Prowse is currently stuck on four goals for the season, with his most recent strike coming back in the November win against Watford.

He managed to score seven goals in the previous campaign but explained that his role in the team doesn’t have an emphasis on scoring.

“I think the position I’m involved in, aside from right back, is not an attacking midfield.

“It’s more about being solid and allowing the front lads to go and win us the game. The emphasis on getting goals from midfield isn’t as high as if we were playing a three in midfield.

“But it’s something always in the back of my mind.”