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SOUTHAMPTON are gearing up for a battle to keep James Ward-Prowse amid interest from Tottenham and Newcastle, reports suggest.

That is according to the Daily Mail, who claim Saints are determined to hold on to Ward-Prowse and will not entertain any offers ahead of the summer transfer window.

2Southampton are gearing up for a battle to keep captain James Ward-ProwseCredit: Getty 2Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse is linked with Tottenham and NewcastleCredit: PA

The midfielder has had another impressive season at St Mary's with nine goals and four assists in 32 Premier League appearances.

The Southampton captain has also been established as one of the Prem's finest free-kick takers with 14 career goals, just four less than Manchester United legend and record holder David Beckham.

The 27-year-old, who is also in line for an England call-up ahead of the winter's 2022 World Cup in Qatar, has thus attracted interest from some of the league's finest clubs.

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte will demand some immediate improvement if he stays and Ward-Prowse appears to be among the club's targets.

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Newcastle are also looking to put their mega cash into good this summer in order to make an impact next season and the Portsmouth native is seen as a good prospect.

But Ralph Hasenhuttl's side is not keen to do business and is under no pressure to sell as the England international has four more years left in his contract.

However, is has been reported that Ward-Prowse could entertain an offer from the Premier League's top six as that would give him the option of playing in Europe.

The versatile midfielder joined Southampton at the age of nine when he started out in the club's academy.

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Following an impressive eight-year stint in Saints' youth sides he earned a senior call-up.

Ward-Prowse has since amassed a total of 43 goals and 47 assists in 360 appearances with Southampton.

He also earned his first England call-up in 2017 and has two goals in 10 caps under his name.

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Ryan Sessegnon jokes Antonio Conte would have “killed” him if he had failed to net after helping Tottenham to rout

RYAN SESSEGNON helped Spurs slay Southampton and then joked: If I had missed, Antonio Conte would have killed me!

The England Under-21 starlet netted his first Premier League goal for Tottenham to restore parity against Saints after James Ward-Prowse’s opener.

2Ryan Sessegnon netted the equaliser before Spurs went on to win 4-1Credit: Getty 2Antonio Conte labelled the rout of Southampton as the "perfect" start to the seasonCredit: AP

Sessegnon, who got the nod over summer signing Ivan Perisic, raced in at the far post to head home Dejan Kulusevski’s cross.

Conte’s side then ran away with it thanks to Eric Dier’s header, Mohammed Salisu’s comical own goal and a cool Kulusevski finish.

Wing-back Sessegnon, 22, said: "If I hadn’t scored that I think (the manager) would have killed me to be honest! 

“There was a moment a couple of minutes earlier when Dejan Kulusevski cut back and I arrived too late and I knew I couldn’t arrive too late the next time he did it.”

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Conte laughed when asked about Sessegnon’s comments and also brought up the chance the former Fulham whizkid had failed to take advantage of moments before.

The Italian said: “If you remember maybe five minutes before there was a cross and he was behind his opponent. 

“On the bench we were really upset with him because he has to attack the second post and find the right position!

“Then he scored and we were pleased and celebrated a lot because five minutes before he wasn’t in the same place to score. 

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“I’m happy for him because he has great potential but has to show this potential.”

Freebie Perisic, 33, was Spurs’ first of six summer signings and was introduced off the bench in the second half, along with fellow new-boys Clement Lenglet and Yves Bissouma.

Sessegnon claimed he wanted to learn from the Croat to raise his own game.

That is exactly what Conte envisaged when he brought in Perisic, having worked with the Champions League winner at Inter Milan.

Conte added: “I think it’s very important that we signed a player like Ivan Perisic because he (Sessegnon) can see the way to learn something about Ivan. We are talking about a very important player in Ivan, a top player.

“Sometimes it’s good to bring into your team players even if they are a bit over-age. If they are a good player with experience, they can bring this experience to improve young players in your squad. I think Sessegnon is doing this.”

Conte hailed the result as the “perfect start” to what could be a mouthwatering season in North London.

Though he had a blunt response to anyone surprised that none of the new signings started the game.

The ex-Chelsea boss said: “I think that I use common sense because in this moment we are starting the new season and the old players reach a big achievement last season to get a place in Champions League. 

“In the last 10 games I think we played really well and we had fantastic results.”

Meanwhile Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl was not impressed with Salisu’s decision to try to clear with his favoured left foot, instead of hacking away with his right, which led to him turning into his own net for the killer third goal.

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The Austrian said: “It was easy to clear the ball with the right foot. This is simply not good enough at this level.

“It felt a little bit like the opponents switched into the next gear and we couldn’t follow after the first 20 minutes. It was frustrating to see how big the gap is, to be honest.”

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