James Ward-Prowse says Southampton’s players knew they would have to rise to the occasion at St Mary’s on Thursday night.
They certainly did that, as Saints came away with an impressive 3-0 win against Sparta Praha to start their Europa League campaign in style.
For Ward-Prowse, it was a great night in which Saints got their whole season up and running after failing to win in their first four league matches.
“We needed to use the game as a catalyst to kick-start our season,” Ward-Prowse said after the win on Thursday night.
“We knew it would be a special night for the whole club and that we needed to get off to a good start.
“I think we executed our gameplan really well. I’m delighted for Charlie [Austin], he’s worked very hard and deserves the two goals, but overall the team performance was very strong.”
Ward-Prowse played the full 90 minutes for Claude Puel’s side, with the manager making seven changes to deal with the demands of Europa League football.
The midfielder believes Puel’s decision was rewarded by the efforts of those who stepped in, while he praised the manager for his confidence in the whole squad.
“We’re all professional players ready to do the job. We know there’s going to be rotation in the squad to deal with the amount of games we have,” he added.
“We’ve all got to be ready so it’s a credit to the manager for doing that and to us for applying ourselves right on the night.
“11 players can’t play every minute of every game. The manager has reiterated that to us before the game and it has shown here this evening.”