England safe in Saints' hands

Friday 8th November 2013 19:07

Jay Rodriguez: Deserves special praise, according to Stanfield

Jay Rodriguez: Deserves special praise, according to Stanfield

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Southampton FanZoner Ben Stanfield hails the hard work the club has done to get the trio of Saints players on the international stage.

They say that good news comes in three's? Well surely there can be no better news for Southampton fan's at the moment than Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez all being called up to Roy Hodgson's current England squad.

It is a tremendous period for our Club in both its history and its evolution and these National selections are testament to the hard work that everyone has put in at the Club from the Chairman, Nicola Cortese, right down to the players themselves.

Whilst Lambert has recently been a regular part of the senior England squad, Lallana has been on the cusp for some time and Rodriguez one of the numerous players in the Premier League that would have had dreams to play for England but ever wondered if their call up would realistically come.

For the moment its Jay Rodriguez I'd like to focus on actually.

Firstly, unlike Lallana specifically, Rodriguez learnt his trade at Burnley and came up through their academy system. They deserve a lot of the plaudits for his rise to fame and will no doubt be very proud of what he has gone on to achieve since leaving them.

Jay arrived at Saints just over 18 months ago now and has become a vital part of the squad. He is still fairly young (at 24) and has almost a complete, all-round game.

When he first joined Saints there was no doubt (he even said himself) that he wanted to play as a central striker but, with Rickie Lambert and Dani Osvaldo now well ahead of him in the pecking order for that position, he has had to adapt his game to slot into the side.

Through that willingness to do so he has found himself playing on the left-wing as part of a 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation. Jay has both the energy and personal desire to make this position work as best as he can for himself and the team and puts in 100 per cent effort to work up and down the flank in both attacking and defending modes.

Rodriguez is good with both feet, quick, powerful in the air and a natural goal scorer. His record at Burnley was something like 30 goals in 100 games and, even at Saints where he has limited opportunities, he has managed to score a goal every 5 games or so.

If we're honest, it's that adaption to the left-wing that has probably given him the chance to get his England call-up. If he'd remained as a central striker I can't believe, with the options that Hodgson has for that position, that he would have got his chance. They say everything happens for a reason and I think its fair to say that Jay's determination to play a part in the Saints team, wherever he can, has really helped him to get noticed.

Danny Welbeck has been performing a similar role on the left for England in recent times and, should he not be selected or fall out of favour, then I think Rodriguez will be able to perform as a more than adequate deputy.

It's the first time since 1984 (Shilton, Wallace and Wright) that Southampton have had 3 players selected for the National squad. What is most welcoming is that, unlike some previous England managers, Hodgson and Gary Neville haven't been afraid to select players based on form rather than just on their 'name'.

Southampton has always been an 'unfashionable' club to lots of fans around the country but now, as we continue to do well in the Premier League, people are starting to realise that our actions really do speak louder than our words.

We have a plethora of other young English players who have every chance of one day going on to be selected for the National squad as well. Most noticeably, out of those who weren't selected this time around, is Nathaniel Clyne (who must be very close) and then players such as Luke Shaw and James Ward-Prowse (18 and 19 years old respectively) who are in the latest under-21's squad. The future is really bright both for Southampton and England with players like this coming through.

But there is no doubting to me that the praise shouldn't just go to the Club for just developing these players. No, it should also (probably more so) go to the club for having the courage to play them week in, week out in the Premier League - and how many other Clubs in the Premier League can say they do that? Some clubs struggle to play one Englishman - yet we have around 6 or 7 in our team!

It just goes to show that, whilst excellent foreign talent is rife in the Premier League at the moment, sometimes just sometimes British, or at least English, can be best!

Congratulations to them all on their call-up's and long may the deserved success and recognition for our Southampton and players continue!

By Ben Stanfield, FanZone's Southampton blogger. Follow Ben on Twitter at @benstanners and don't forget to follow FanZone too.



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