JAY Rodriguez has vowed not to celebrate if he scores against his former Burnley teammates.
Saints’ leading scorer has already netted nine goals this season, including five in his last eight appearances.
But he insists he will not celebrate out of respect for his hometown club if he reaches double figures in tomorrow’s FA Cup third-round tie. “I’ll obviously be happy to score a goal but it’s my old club,” explained Rodriguez, who will have support in all four corners of St Mary’s tomorrow.
“When the draw came through I had a lot of texts and phone calls from family and mates,” he said. “It’s going to be a great game!”
Rodriguez scored 41 goals in 87 starts for Burnley before his £7m move south 18 months ago.
He is now thriving but admits it was not an easy transition to start with.
“Moving away from family and friends I’ve grown up with all my life was quite hard but in time it’s got a lot better and at the moment I’m loving life down here,” said Rodriguez.
“I obviously still miss home, that’s part of it, but they enjoy coming down here a lot and it’s nice to be living in a great place.”
Rodriguez’s performances have improved as he has settled in, particularly under Mauricio Pochettino.
“My main focus down here is football, that’s helped me and the club’s helped me massively to improve as a player since I’ve been here,” continued the 24 year-old, whose athleticism has also reached new heights at St Mary’s.
“When I first came here I realised how fit the lads were and everything that goes with the training is really hard,” he said.
“It's something you want to improve because in the Premiership you need to be as athletic as you can be.”
Rodriguez may also get the chance to play against his old club in the Premier League next year following third-placed Burnley’s impressive first half of the Championship season.
“They deserve to be there and I just hope they can stay there,” continued the England international, who missed Burnley’s one Premier League season in 2009/10 due largely to an ankle injury.
“It was frustrating seeing the Premier League come to Turf Moor and not be able to play but I think it improved me physically because when I was out I did a lot of gym work,” he explained.
A five-month loan spell at Scottish first division outfit Stirling Albion five years ago was also a crucial phase in Rodriguez’s development.
“That was massive for me, Owen Coyle sent me up and I still speak to Allan Moore, Stilring’s manager at the time,” he said.
“He was great with me as a young lad, he taught me real football. It was tough and improved me as a player and a person because it was a tough league.
“I was a lot skinnier and got kicked about a bit but it was a good experience and something I enjoyed.”