James Ward-Prowse is looking to repay the faith shown in him after once again committing his long-term future to Southampton.

The 26-year-old has put pen to paper on a new five-year contract, which will extend his association with the club past the 20-year mark.

After completing his first full campaign as Saints captain in 2020/21, Ward-Prowse is looking to continue his development with his future now settled.

“It’s something [being captain] that I’ve wanted since I was eight years old. I’ve always envisaged myself to be captain of this football club.

“It’s not as easy as I thought. There’s a lot more challenges than just wearing the armband at the weekend and being more vocal.

“It’s something I’m enjoying and learning about all the time. I want to be the best captain I can be for this football club and going forward, I feel that’s something I can do.

“You always have those hopes and ambitions but never think too far ahead. You break it down into small chunks.

“It’s never plain sailing or on an upward trajectory, you are going to have issues along the way; playing, not playing, in favour with certain coaches and not, so there’s been plenty of challenges along the way.

“When you have moments like this it kind of takes you back to those sacrifices, those dark moments, and makes you appreciate the good moments.

“I’m sat here today a very proud man and I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

With the 2021/22 campaign already under way and with the first home match oft the season against Manchester United on the horizon, Saints’ captain is relishing the return of fans and the season ahead.

“One thing I’ve noticed this season is we’ve taken real lessons from last season and improved not only the footballing side of things but the squad has improved for sure.

“Off the pitch, the culture around the club has done a good job of ensuring those standards are kept high, and all the little minute details that people may not see on a Saturday.

“Day-to-day there’s a really good positive feeling and everyone is geared towards winning and it’s refreshing to be a part of since coming back for pre-season.

“It’s going to be a special day [on Sunday] for sure, and the fans play a huge part in getting behind the team and we’ll make sure we’re energetic and ready from the start.”