Jay Rodriguez could be an England international in the future, writes Jamie Smith.
England’s quarter-final defeat on penalties to Italy has led some to question the role of Wayne Rooney in the international side. Just one goal since his breakthrough as a teenager at Euro 2004 has seen his place questioned, although on paper he is undoubtedly one of England’s better players. It’s not inconceivable that if other English strikers start next season strongly, he might find himself out of the England squad. He’s not done much to deserve his place and young talent is coming through.
Danny Welbeck and Andy Carroll scored a goal apiece in their debut international tournaments, while fellow scorer Theo Walcott also has aspirations of being a central forward. Daniel Sturridge was on the standby list and looks likely to play a major part for the international side in future years.
Senior forwards like Darren Bent, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch might see their opportunities limited. Roy Hodgson has shown he is not afraid to use young players when the time is right – witness throwing in teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the France match – and it will be interesting to see which players he takes a look at in August’s friendly against Switzerland.
Burnley’s record outgoing transfer Jay Rodriguez could be among the strikers Hodgson assesses in the coming months and although he’s not ours any more, there’s still good reason for Burnley fans to look out for him. There are probably add-ons tied in to the deal with Southampton dependent on his success, so we want him to do well so we get the maximum amount of money. Having a BFC-nurtered player performing well in the Premier League will also be a sign to young players that their future is in the right hands if they sign for us.
Jay has every chance of making it at the very top level. He has two good feet and a very good first touch that will only improve with experience. He scores all sorts of goals and that makes him hard to play against. He’s not startlingly strong or fast, but he’s physically a handful. He also slots into a range of systems, although he’s not shown his best football as a lone forward yet. He can play off a target man, from the left flank or deeper, dropping into midfield to collect the ball and make dangerous, driving runs at the heart of a defence.
It’s hard to predict how he will take to Premier League football, but he’s not too dissimilar a player to Shane Long, who moved to West Brom from Reading for the same sort of money last summer. Long started the season on fire with a string of goals and sparkling performances against big teams. If Rodriguez emulates the Irishman, it’s not far-fetched to suggest he could be close to an England call by the end of the season.
Of course, Jay could find it tough. Southampton have been promoted two years in a row and although Nigel Adkins is an astute manager, staying in the Premier League is a very different proposition to getting a big club out of League One and the Championship. If Jay finds himself starved of service, he might struggle to make an impact.
But we’ve seen him develop so fast over the course of the last two years, it would be a brave person who would bet against Jay continuing his rise and ending up with England caps to his name. 31 league goals from 105 appearances may be noting to write home about so far, but one in three is a good record for a young player who spent a lot of time on the bench at the start of his career.
Since Jay brings a lot more than just goals to the party, he has every chance of making it. Fingers crossed.
How far can Jay Rodriguez go? Will he play for England? Comment on the right.