By Noel Whelan

30th Oct, 2021 | 8:30pm

Pundit wowed as Newcastle work on signing £40m-rated Shelvey upgrade

Noel Whelan has insisted Newcastle United would immediately upgrade their midfield by signing James Ward-Prowse from Southampton.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds striker hailed the 26-year-old’s quality and work rate for both club and country.

A Newcastle source has told Football Insider (28th October) the Magpies are set to explore a potential deal for Ward-Prowse in January.

The nine-cap England international is valued at £40million by Southampton after he signed a new deal in August.

The south coast outfit rejected a £25million offer from Aston Villa this summer.

Bolstering the midfield in January is a priority of the new Newcastle board.

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Whelan insisted Ward-Prowse would be a step up from the likes of Jonjo Shelvey, Sean Longstaff and Isaac Hayden.

“Ward-Prowse is a player that a lot of people admire,” Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge.

The game that he plays, the set pieces he takes, the hard work he puts in midfield.

“He has that England recognition now as well. He has had that pathway through to Southgate’s team because of all those performances put in and how important he is in that midfield to Southampton.

“Good age, brilliant person, looks like a true professional. Would he improve their midfield? Absolutely. That’s what you got to look at you if you’re looking to sign players.

“You’ve got to be looking at certain players that are going to improve the team and are better than what you’ve already got. That’s what the Newcastle owners looking to do.

“They’re looking realistically at people that are available and that they could bring in straightaway. Think about the points that he could win them with set-pieces, free kicks and quality deliveries into the box.

“When you’re looking at the big picture, it’s not just that that attracts Ward-Prowse to managers. It’s the fact that the hard work he puts in, he’s quite tenacious in that midfield. He looks like a leader.

“Someone who’s in the England setup now and being introduced into that can’t be a bad player.”

In other news, a Newcastle United source has revealed who is PiF’s real ‘No 1 choice’ to take over as the new manager as move lined up.