'If James Ward-Prowse played for Manchester United, he'd be in every England squad'
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James Ward-Prowse would be included in every England squad if he played under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United, according to former Spurs striker Darren Bent.
On Friday afternoon, Gareth Southgate named his first England squad of 2023 ahead of their upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine.
Uncapped Brentford forward Ivan Toney was rewarded for his impressive form with a call-up, as did Chelsea trio Conor Gallagher, Mason Mount and Reece James.
But a number of notable absentees raised eyebrows amongst fans, including the distinct lack of in-form midfielder James Ward-Prowse, who has been superb for Southampton this season.
The 28-year-old, who has made just 11 caps for the Three Lions, was overlooked by Southgate despite notching eight goals and three assists for the Saints this season.
Speaking on talkSPORT drive, a frustrated Darren Bent questioned the decision to leave Ward-Prowse out of the squad.
He said: “James Ward-Prowse plays every minute for Southampton, plays well. Kalvin Phillips doesn’t play at all, and I get it, he’s played well for Gareth, but if you’re James Ward-Prowse, what kind of message does that send out?
“If you’re not playing for a big club, regardless of how you’re playing, you’re not getting picked.”
TalkSPORT co-host Andy Goldstein soon stepped in to ask whether Ward-Prowse would have received a call-up from Gareth Southgate if he played for a bigger club.
"Yeah of course," Bent replied. "He plays for Southampton every week, he never shirks from his responsibility.”
The former Charlton and Spurs forward added: “You give me reason for him picking someone who is not playing, so they’re not match sharp over someone that plays week in, week out and has played well?”
😠 "If Ward-Prowse played for Man United, he'd be in every England squad!"— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) March 16, 2023
😲 "How is Kalvin Phillips in the squad ahead of him!"
👀 "Some England managers think if you're at a big club you're a better player!"
Is there favouritism to players at big clubs in the England squad? pic.twitter.com/aU5kpmx2N4
Bent went on to claim that Ward-Prowse would be in "every single England squad" if he played for Manchester United.
“You get some England managers, and I didn’t think Gareth Southgate was like this, but you get some England managers that feel like if you’re at a big club, that you’re going to be the better player," he said.
“‘Even if you’re not fit, I’d rather take a chance on him who is 60 per cent playing at Man City that someone is 100 per cent playing at Southampton.'”
When asked what would happen if the Southampton midfielder was playing regular football at Old Trafford, Bent replied: “He’d be in every single squad, 100 per cent. I have no doubts whatsoever.”
Do you agree with Bent's comments? Do you think Ward-Prowse deserved a place in Gareth Southgate's latest squad?
Let us know in the comments.