Tuesday 25 October 2016

Koeman buoyed by Rodriguez return

Published 14/05/2015 | 14:11

Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez is closing in on a return after over 12 months out injured
Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez is closing in on a return after over 12 months out injured

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman believes Jay Rodriguez's long-awaited return from injury will be like having a new player at the club next season.

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Rodriguez has not played since rupturing his anterior cruciate knee ligament against Manchester City in April 2014 but the 25-year-old is back in training and on course to play against Manuel Pellegrini's side on the final day of the campaign.

Saturday's match at home to Aston Villa is likely to come too soon for the striker but Saints hope he can feature in an Under-21 fixture, also against Manchester City, next week.

"He's a very dangerous front player that makes the team even stronger," Koeman said.

"He will give us very good competition between the strikers, that will be important for next season.

"If Jay can have a good pre-season, we have a new player in our team and that is fantastic news.

"He was part of the sessions this week. We are waiting for confirmation about an Under-21 game against Manchester city at home next Tuesday.

"He will be part of that, maybe in the second half, and then after that there is a possibility to take Jay with the squad to the Man City game.

"It will be nice for everybody because that will mean he is back but it is too early to make that kind of decision, we have to wait."

Rodriguez capped his return to action by signing a four-year contract on Tuesday and the club are increasingly optimistic Nathaniel Clyne will soon follow suit.

Clyne, who has been linked with a summer move to Manchester United, recently changed his agent and Southampton chief executive Les Reed said on Monday that negotiations had since progressed.

"As Les already mentioned, the feeling is good that we can keep Clyney in the club," Koeman said.

"But it is still left to do the signature of the player and we hope that will be next week.

"The feeling is very positive but the reason we have to wait a little more time is because he changed his agent."

Southampton host Aston Villa this weekend, hoping to strengthen their bid for Europa League football next season.

They are currently seventh in the table, which will be enough to qualify if Arsenal win the FA Cup, but are under pressure from Swansea, who now sit only a point behind after beating the Gunners on Monday.

"To finish in sixth I think we need at least four points from the last two games," Koeman said.

"It was a great result for Swansea (against Arsenal), they are having a fantastic season like we are.

"It means there is maybe even more pressure for everyone on Saturdays' game but it is a home game and we need a win.

"It's all about us, not about Swansea, if we win they can't pass us in the table. It's up to us."

Saints midfielder James Ward-Prowse is available again after serving a one-match ban but Morgan Schneiderlin (knee) and Dusan Tadic (groin) are still injured.

Press Association

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