Jay Rodriguez has been in fine form for Southampton this season, but he admits his England call-up has come as a surprise.
The 24-year-old has been a key player this season as the Saints have taken the Premier League by storm, with three goals in ten appearances for the side which currently stands sixth in the table. At this rate, he is well on course to better the six strikes he registered last term, when he played in all but three of their league fixtures.
Rodriguez has now been rewarded for his form with a call-up to the England squad for the friendly matches against Chile and Germany. This will give the former Burnley youngster the chance to impress coach Roy Hodgson and, possibly, even book himself a ticket for the World Cup Finals in Brazil which take place next summer.
“Words can’t describe it – I’m obviously still shocked,” Rodriguez told the Southampton website. “It’s a bit surreal. It’s a dream come true, really. I couldn’t believe it when I was told, and I haven’t stopped smiling all day. It’s been important for me to concentrate on my football and improving as a player, and hopefully this will improve me massively.
“I’ve been focused on my club games and my performances there, so I had to keep my feet on the ground and keep working. Now I just can’t wait to get among the lads and be a part of it. It’s a really good feeling, but I still feel I’ve got a lot to improve – and that’s what I want to do. I’ll keep my head down, work hard and I’ll keep taking on these challenges.”
Rodriguez is the third Southampton player to be called up to the senior squad, along with Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana, the latter of whom has also yet to win a first cap. Another St Mary’s ace, young fullback Luke Shaw, was tipped for promotion from the Under-21’s, but like West Ham United’s Ravel Morrison and Saido Berahino, of West Bromwich Albion, he has missed out on this occasion. Arsenal’s Kieran Gibbs, and Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson, are the other notable inclusions in the 28-man squad.
Squad: Forster, Hart, Ruddy, Baines, Cahill, Cole, Gibbs, Jagielka, Johnson, Jones, Smalling, Walker, Barkley, Carrick, Cleverley, Gerrard, Henderson, Lallana, Lampard, Milner, Townsend, Wilshere, Defoe, Lambert, Rodriguez, Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck.