Jay Rodriguez tips former Burnley colleague Danny Ings to break into the England squad (From Basingstoke Gazette)
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Jay Rodriguez tips former Burnley colleague Danny Ings to break into the England squad
Updated 6:47pm Friday 3rd January 2014 in Sport
Saints striker Rodriguez is hoping to put one over hometown club Burnley in FA Cup third round action at St Mary's tomorrow But while the 24-year-old wants to dump his old club out of the competition, England man Rodriguez still wants them to join Saints in the Premier League.
Persistent ankle problems ruled Rodriguez out of Premier League action with Burnley in 2009/10, and he hopes the second-placed Sky Bet Championship side can win promotion to face Southampton in league action next term.
"They deserve to be there and I just hope they can stay there," said Rodriguez.
"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."
Free-scoring Ings has blasted 19 goals in 27 games for Burnley so far this term, and Rodriguez believes the England Under-21 striker will progress to full international status in time. Ings was released by Southampton as a schoolboy before breaking through at Bournemouth to make his name and earn a move north.
Rodriguez has headed the other way, after impressing at his hometown club and now winding up on the south coast.
Whatever their differing routes, Rodriguez hopes the pair end up in the same place: Roy Hodgson's England squad. Backing Ings to win full international honours, he said: "I don't see why not, he's a great player with a great future.
"Unfortunately he picked up a bad injury when I was there but when he came back he was a great player and it's no surprise he's scoring goals for fun. "He's a great talent and a good lad as well so there'll be a lot of interest in him [during the January transfer window]. "But I'm sure Burnley will be able to keep hold of him and do well this year."
Despite mixed feelings Rodriguez admitted he would love to add to his tally of nine goals for the season against his boyhood club. After joining Southampton last summer, Rodriguez took time to find his feet but believes he is now thriving under the guidance of manager Mauricio Pochettino. He said: "I'll obviously be happy to score a goal but it's my old club.
"When the draw came through I had a lot of texts and phone calls from family and mates. It's going to be a great game.
"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. "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.
"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.
"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."
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