In Ronald Koeman’s latest press conference it was confirmed that Southampton forward and fan favourite, Jay Rodriguez, is set for yet another spell on the sidelines. The severity and time frame of the injury however is still unknown after Koeman told the media “Jay is not good, it’s now a long time and we have to make a really tough decision how we have to do the treatment”. So, where does this leave Southampton who are now a forward down?
Truthfully, pretty comfortable provided everyone in the squad is well and injury free. It’s no secret that Rodriguez – or any other player in fact – plays second fiddle to a fit Graziano Pellè, Dusan Tadic and Sadio Mane.
Pellè’s influence in play and clinical finishing makes him unbenchable, not to mention that he’s one of Koeman’s favourites.
Sadio Mane offers immense pace, intelligent movement and quick feet. Whilst these are traits of Rodriguez, it’s a case of anything you can do, I can do better.
Finally we have Tadic who provides the creative spark for the front line. When a game needs that deft touch and classy pass, the Serbian comes up with the goods.
Every attack needs strength, pace and creativity. Unluckily for Rodriguez, those needs are already being met. Simply put, he’s not a set starter with a fully fit squad.
As for backup, this is when the issues rise to the surface.
Shane Long is without argument, our only proven Premier League attacker on the bench. When injury strikes or a tactical change is needed, the Irishman is the first name to be called upon.
Then we have former Malaga man Juanmi, who has struggled to settle into the ways of English football. So far, the Spaniard has found game time coming at a premium due to his slight frame.
The final option is 19 year old Ryan Seager. He will be a familiar name to those who follow the U21’s.
A strong and match fit Rodriguez would prove to be incredible competition for the Southampton XI. He would without doubt be the best player from those options on the bench, and be placed into the squad at the sight of poor performances; most likely retaining his place in the first team when in his best form too.
The only issue however, is that he is still yet to be match fit. With this new setback, Rodriguez could be looking at over two years of being unfit. It goes without saying that time like that out of the game is heavily damaging to a player’s career, both physically and mentally.
Injuries like this stop a player taking the risks they once took. It stops a player from pushing themselves to the limit. It can eat away at a winning mentality.
When Rodriguez had played this season, the safe option was taken all too often. We weren’t treated to a single one of those trademark inside runs or charges down the wing. He didn’t even fancy the idea of closing down or a shoulder to shoulder battle. However, after the challenges he has had to overcome, not the slightest of blame is going on Rodriguez; some players are able to return from such a damaging injury, some can not.
I’m just not sure that people realise the possible severity of both his first injury, and this new setback.
The only light to be seen in this unfortunate event is the possibility of a signing in the January window. We’ve seen time and time again that a series of injuries in quick succession can severely affect a squads season, making the need for a new signing all the more crucial with Rodriguez now side lined. One more injury on top of Rodriguez and we will be short on supplies. If a deal was to be struck, expect a loan signing like the Filip Djuricic and Eljero Elia deals of last season.
After 19 months since that injury versus Manchester City, it will be a delight to see Rodriguez back doing what he does best; because in all honesty, was he ever really back? The Rodriguez we know is yet to return.