Saturday 16 December 2017

Jay Rodriguez set to return after international break

Southampton's Jay Rodriguez is working towards a first-team comeback
Southampton's Jay Rodriguez is working towards a first-team comeback

Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez will make his latest return from injury after the international break.

The 26-year-old has not played for Saints since October due to a foot injury, having previously been out for 15 months following cruciate ligament damage.

But Rodriguez managed an hour for the club's under-21 side on Monday and will get 90 minutes under his belt with the youngsters again this weekend.

And boss Ronald Koeman then expects the one-time England international, who was in contention to go the World Cup in 2014 until injury struck, to be available to face Leicester on April 3.

"Jay will play for 90 minutes for the under-21s," said Koeman.

"He needs that game time and then with the international break coming up, with two weeks of good training he will be available for the first team.

"I didn't see the game he played but saw clips and got information from Jay and (coach) Martin Hunter.

"It was his first game, he played 60 minutes, and before being selected for the first team he needs 90 minutes."

Rodriguez's fellow forward and former Burnley team-mate Charlie Austin is also due back after the break following a hamstring injury.

And with Graziano Pelle ending his recent goal drought with a double in last week's win at Stoke, Koeman suddenly has plenty of attacking options at his disposal.

"Of course it's good to get those goals because that gives the strikers confidence," he added.

"It was Pelle who scored twice but Shane Long, Sadio Mane - all the attackers - they need that confidence. If you get that confidence then it is easier to reach a level."

Koeman has skipper Jose Fonte and midfielder Victor Wanyama available after suspension for the visit of Liverpool on Sunday.

Press Association

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