The West Ham player insisted that there was no bias in his views on his new team-mate’s abilities, and seemed baffled at the England manager’s continuous neglect of the talented midfielder.
The 33-year-old is not alone in his viewpoint, with widespread outcry meeting Southgate’s England squad announcement last week when it was revealed that Ward-Prowse would once again miss out on a place.
The 28-year-old admitted it was a ‘huge disappointment’ not have received the call-up minutes after providing yet another assist for David Moyes‘ side in their Europa League win against Freiburg on Thursday.
Michail Antonio (left) has questioned why Gareth Southgate has overlooped his West Ham team-mate James Ward-Prowse
The midfielder has been in fine fettle since his move from Southampton and is considered one of the standout signings of the summer window
But the England head coach seems unwilling to introduce the ex-Southamton man to his set-up
Your browser does not support iframes.
The decision not bring him into the camp for a friendly against Australia and England’s qualifier against Italy had ‘upset’ Antonio, the striker shared on The Footballer’s Football Podcast.
‘He’s taking the mick,’ Antonio began. ‘James Ward-Prowse. How on earth is he not getting a call up. It’s embarrassing!
‘It’s embarassing. The stats he has, everything he’s been doing, he’s been playing week-in, week-out – for years.
‘And (instead) he keeps on bringing in people that are not even playing. It’s mad. I respect the players that are going there are quality, but if you’re not playing, you shouldn’t be going to international football.’
Southgate has called upon a number of his England stalwarts regardless of their club minutes this season, including Manchester City’s Kalvin Phillips – who has had just 70 minutes of Premier League football with quarter of the season played – and Manchester United’s Harry Maguire.
The England manager also handed a call-up to Jordan Henderson, who is currently plying his trade in the less-competitive environs of the Saudi Pro League with Al-Ettifaq.
When reminded of Southgate’s earlier comments about his interest in only picking players who regularly played first-team football, Antonio continued: ‘He said that when he first went in. That’s what he said when he first went in. And I think within three squads that went out the window.
Kalvin Phillips received the nod from Southgate despite having played minimum minutes
Harry Maguire has also struggled for form of late but is consistently relied upon by the coach
‘And like, it’s just one of those things. I understand that a lot of the time, managers like to pick players that they trust. Which I get, I do understand that. But it’s England.
‘So basically, what you’ve said is, he’s built his own Premier League squad. “You know what, no matter what, these are my players.”
‘But why I don’t like it is – when you’re playing your best, when you’re doing well, you should be rewarded. That’s what I believe in. And being rewarded – that is England. If you’ve got the stats that should be putting you in the squad, then you should be in the squad.
Antonio also spoke to his own experiences, and the impact that consistent non-selection might have on a player, sharing that one of the aspects of the game he found most difficult was when he was in form and ‘being dropped’.
‘I felt powerless, and I couldn’t understand it,’ Antonio added. ‘So, James Ward-Prowse has been unbelieveable for us, and his stats speak for themself.
‘I’m not talking just because he’s my team-mate. There are other players out there that are doing well, that should also get the call-up as well.’
Since making his move from relegated Southampton to the London Stadium, Ward-Prowse has become a permanent fixture for Moyes, and has scored twice whilst creating a further seven across all competitions.
So significant is Southgate’s snub, Antonio argued, that any future call-up might have to come when England change their manager.
Ward-Prowse last featured for England over a year ago in September 2022, and has 11 caps
When asked what would happen if Ward-Prowse was given the nod close to the European Championships next year, Antonio said: ‘I ain’t going to lie – if I was James, I wouldn’t go! I’m being deadly serious – I would not go. I’d be like, “I’m not playing for you. Why would I do that?
‘”There’s no bigger honour playing for your country, but I don’t want to play for the man. End of day, I have done everything possible to be called up by you, and multiple times you’ve overlooked me when possibly, you shouldn’t have.”‘
Southgate has called up Ward-Prowse 11 times for senior squad action, but last did so in September 22.
The midfielder has scored twice in England colours, with both goals coming during England’s World Cup qualification ahead of Qatar 2022.