'I want to get to the highest level' - Crawley Town's Southampton loanee has big ambitions

Southampton loanee and Republic of Ireland youth international Will Ferry is determined to play at the highest level he can in his promising career.

Capped at both U19 and U21 level for Ireland, Ferry represents the country of his paternal grandfather and is relishing the chance to play international football. “I feel a proper connection when I play, I’m a passionate player anyway but when I’m with Ireland I just want to give that bit extra.”

The Irish senior squad have struggled of late: most recently the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign saw them finish level on points with minnows Luxembourg and fail to qualify. However, Ferry is one of a few young talents who may well break into an already youthful squad.

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Will Ferry

“This generation and even ones below me have got really good press about them. Stephen Kenny is bringing through the youth and giving everyone a chance.” Talking about the possibility of a senior cap, Ferry said: “I have to make a big step in my career to do that, and I believe I can.

"Getting to the point where I can perform at my best, I think I can do it. This season I’ve played well but haven’t played as well as I know I can all the time. There’s always room for improvement and feel there’s more to get out of me, I just need to find a way to do that.”

Bury-born Ferry played for his hometown club from the age of eight until he was 16 before he earned a move to Premier League side, Southampton.

“When I was at Bury, I never thought that I’d be anywhere else but a week after I finished my GCSE’s my dad told me that Southampton were interested. Two days later we flew down and looked around. After, I had a chat with my family and obviously as I was young my mum was half reluctant as to whether she wanted me to go. We went for it as I might not have had that chance again.

“I struggled at first with being away from home, but I had a host family which helped me and there were a few boys in there that I’m still really close with. They welcomed me and I finally started feeling at home about two-or three-months in.”

Ferry featured for the U18s and then the U23s before joining up with the first team. Ferry’s spotlight moment came in a Premier League 2 game last season, when he captained Southampton against Tottenham Hotspur.

“I’d never really seen myself as a captain, it was more because I was one of the older boys and it was more of a leadership role. The following week I scored two against Arsenal, I had to step up and lead by example as I was becoming one of the older lads.”

Upon joining with the first team, Ferry transitioned into a left-back from the usual left-midfield role he occupies at Crawley. “In training I was watching (Ryan) Bertrand as I was becoming a left-back, he’s had a great career and someone I look up to.

“When everyone talks about being a model pro, that’s exactly what (James) Ward-Prowse is. He’d set himself up with six balls either side to practise (free kicks). We’d all go and sit by the side of the pitch and watch and every single one go in, the odd occasion it missed but it would come off the crossbar, none of them would go sky high or be dragged.

“Everyone would sit there and think this is mental, his technique is honestly a joke.”

Although never making a senior bow for the Saints, Ferry was an unused sub in several games at the back end of last season under coach Ralph Hasenhuttl. “His philosophy was different to what you’ve been told growing up in England, even things like tracking your man. He’s all about ball orientation, getting on the ball as quick as possible. It’s difficult changing certain mechanisms where I’ve been doing them my whole life but his tactics and the way he implements his plan you can tell he’s a top-level coach.”

Ferry has enhanced his development this season while on loan with Crawley, when asked whether he feels he has matured over the year, he said: “100%, I feel if I was to go back to the Southampton U23s, I feel I could be a massive help from experience I’ve gained just in one season of men’s football. It’s a step up physically and mentally, if you make a mistake here, you’re costing points, everything relies on three points at the weekend.”

Looking ahead to what his promising future has in store, Ferry told of his goals over the next couple years. “I don’t want to take my foot off the gas and have a season where I’m not playing anywhere, I want to be playing whatever level that is.

"I want to get to the highest level, I haven’t got in Southampton’s first team so there’s a reason for that, either I’m not good enough or need experience. I played with Nathan Tella loads who’s done really well in the first team, it’s just about taking that chance when it comes along.”

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