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Jay's having a ball at Saints
JAY Rodriguez is having the time of his life as a Premier League star and England international.
Saints’ top scorer this season is only one goal away from equalling the six he scored during his first season in the Premier League.
The 24 year-old has come a long way since his move from hometown club Burnley just 18 months ago.
“It was quite hard, moving away from family and friends, but in time it’s got a lot better and at the moment I’m loving life down here,” he said.
“It’s an amazing place to live and the club itself is a great place to be. “I’m enjoying coming in to train and play every day. “It’s just an amazing time at the moment.”
Alarmingly for opposition defenders, Rodriguez is still some way from his peak years.
But he agrees that he has thrived under Mauricio Pochettino and is a better player than he was at Burnley.
“He has given me the belief, the confidence and shown me the way to play, the club’s helped me massively to improve,” said Rodriguez, who is in better shape than he has ever been.
“When I first came here I realised how fit the lads were and everything that goes with the training is really hard.
“It's something you want to improve because in the Premiership you need to be as athletic as you can be.”
Rodriguez’s family visit him regularly and will be travelling south for Burnley visit in the FA Cup third round on January 4.
They will also make the trip to Newcastle this afternoon, where Saints’ No 9 is likely to start his tenth successive match, a run of games sandwiching his England debut against Chile at Wembley last month.
Although he was not at his best, Rodriguez admits it was still a night to savour.
“It was probably the best experience I’ve ever had,” he said. “Obviously the game didn't go as well as I would have liked but representing your country is probably the biggest thing a player can do.
“It is something that will never leave me.”
Suffice to say, Rodriguez has watched the recording of his 57 minutes at Wembley.
“It was a tough game and something I’ll look to try and improve if I get the chance again,” he continued. “You’re bound to feel [pressure] representing your country, it’s how you deal with it that’s the main thing.”
Should Rodriguez maintain his rich vein of form, he may yet find himself in England’s World Cup squad five months hence.
Dani Osvaldo is likely to be there with Italy, England’s first opponents and Rodriguez expects his Saints teammate to blossom in the next few months, following his stunning equaliser against Manchester City last week.
“He’s definitely a threat, his finishing is unbelievable he shows in training every day that he’s a quality, world-class striker,” he said.
“Playing for Italy against England is something for him to look forward to but hopefully he doesn’t produce any goals like he did the other day!
“That and Adam Lallana’s goal [against Hull] are two of the best I’ve seen since I’ve been in the team.
“Adam’s was also pure class but, again, he does that in training every day so when you see it happen you’re not really surprised.”
Following the impressive performance against City, do not bet against Saints leaving Newcastle with a first win in five games.
“We’ve always had that belief in ourselves that if we carry on as we are and improve as team we can’t go wrong,” added Rodriguez.
“If anyone criticises we don’t take any notice.
“We concentrate on our beliefs and philosophy on how to play.”
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