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The 19-year-old has started 15 Premier League games this season and is happy to leave his development in the hands of Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino

James Ward-Prowse is grateful to Southampton head coach Mauricio Pochettino for breaking him into first-team action gently.

The 19-year-old has started 15 Premier League matches this season, including Southampton's last three, after being left out of the starting XI since late December beforehand.

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The England Under-21 international made his Premier League debut at Manchester City on the opening day of last season, and ahead of this term's return to the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, Ward-Prowse is happy to leave his development in the hands of Pochettino.

"I trust the manager in what he is doing," he told reporters.

"He may need to take me out for a few games to give me a bit of a rest and I think he did that at the right time.

"I felt when I came back into the team, starting the last three games, I felt fit, fresh and replenished again. I think it was good management by the gaffer.

"For me, to be in and around a Premier League set-up at my age is unbelievable but to get the games that I have had and all the starts I have had has been good.

"Obviously, now I am trying to nail down a permanent place in the team but that is difficult when you've got such quality players in the squad.

"It is difficult when you're not playing - we as footballers want to play every minute of every game, but you've got to understand it is a long, tough season and obviously I am young."

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