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Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez states his case to play up front
JAY Rodriguez would prefer to play up front for Saints than out wide – but has promised to do his utmost wherever Nigel Adkins selects him.
The 23-year-old striker joined the Premier League new boys for a club record fee in the region of £7m in the summer, but has predominantly been used on the left flank by Adkins.
Rodriguez started in attack for the first time since joining Saints as Sheffield Wednesday were beaten 2-0 in the Capital One Cup third round on Tuesday night.
The former Burnley striker – a League Cup specialist – was the star of the show as he netted both goals in a 2-0 victory that not only helped Saints progress to the last 16 but boosted his chances of becoming a regular in his preferred position. “It was really good for us to get through to the next round and put on a good show for the fans,” Rodriguez said.
“Also for ourselves it builds confidence heading into the game on Saturday [against Everton].
“To get on the pitch is great and to get that amount of minutes is great. I just want to play and to get the two goals was brilliant so I am really chuffed.
“It was nice to get my first goal for the club. It’s a nice feeling to score, especially at St Mary's.
“I love playing up front. I felt really good playing that role and getting in behind and trying cause the defenders as many problems as I can.
“It is a good feeling to play up front and that is where I like it. It is where I’ve grown up and learned to play, but I will work as hard as I can for the team and play in any position.
“I will try my hardest in any position but, yeah, I do enjoy playing up front.”
Not only has Rodriguez been used out of position by Saints, but he has found playing time limited due to the influx of new players.
After starting against Manchester City and Wigan in Saints’ first two Premier League games, the Burnley-born player has found himself on the bench.
Recent strike signing Emmanuel Mayuka has been preferred to him as a late sub for Rickie Lambert in recent games.
Rodriguez, though, knows the competition for places will only help him.
“It has been very frustrating but in the same sense you are really happy in how the last result was,” he said, referring to Saturday’s 4-1 defeat of Aston Villa – Saints’ first Premier League win this season.
“The lads deserved it and there is great competition for places. It is a healthy competition and it makes you improve as a player and that is what you need as a team.
“We’ve known how good we were deep down and it was proved in the game on Saturday.
“Now we need to look forward to the Everton game and carry on what we have been doing.”
Rodriguez will be hoping for an extended run in the Saints side in the League Cup.
The striker was agonisingly close to a place in the final back in 2008/09.
He scored in the semi-final against Tottenham at Turf Moor, his goal forcing extra time in the second leg as it gave Burnley a 3-0 lead having lost the first leg 4-1 at White Hart Lane.
Tottenham netted twice in extratime, though, to win through to Wembley.
In an earlier round Rodriguez had scored Burnley’s late winner against Premiership club Fulham.
Last season, playing for the Clarets in what was then the Carling Cup , he belted four goals in a 6-3 win against Burton Albion.