James Ward-Prowse is hungry for his first-ever taste of European knockout football, when West Ham United meet SC Freiburg at the Stadion am Wolfswinkel tonight.

The 11-cap England midfielder has only ever previously played in the Europa League group stages for the Hammers and former club Southampton.

And he said: “This is going to be one of my biggest club games so far. 

“These big European nights are part of the reason why I signed for West Ham and I’m really looking forward to it.

“Since arriving here, I’ve seen just how much the players enjoyed their experiences of Prague and I’ve heard all about the UEFA Europa Conference League victory against Fiorentina and their post-match celebrations. 

"We all love playing football and reaching finals and winning like that is what every player wants to do during their career.

“And after what they achieved last June, everyone now wants to keep that momentum going in the UEFA Europa League. Following last season’s success, it was a good time to join the club.”

Ward-Prowse spent two decades with the Saints as man and boy before making his £30million move to London Stadium back in August. 

“I’ve been really pleased with the start to my career at West Ham," he added.

"It’s been everything that I expected it to be, I’m enjoying my football and representing the club, which has been a real honour so far.

“David Moyes has done a fantastic job and I like playing under him and many other members of the squad would say exactly the same thing, too.”

The 29-year-old dead-ball specialist has made 36 appearances in a claret and blue shirt, scoring five times.

But although the Hammers may have already beaten SC Freiburg home and away in their Group A encounters earlier this season, their rivals sit in ninth place in the Bundesliga and go into tonight’s clash having battled to a confidence-boosting 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich last Friday.

“It’ll be a hard game but we want to go back to London Stadium for next week’s return with a platform to build on from this first-leg,” said Ward-Prowse, who is hoping that an extended European run will give him the opportunity to get back into Gareth Southgate’s thoughts ahead of this summer’s UEFA 2024 European Championships.

“Playing in Europe for West Ham helped both Declan Rice and Jarrod Bowen and – having been in-and-out of England squads down the years - it’s always in the back of my mind that I want to force my way back in there.

"But the only way that I’ll achieve that is by focusing on my game at West Ham and playing well. If I’m lucky enough to get an England call, then so be it.”