Southampton’s technical director, Martin Hunter, has praised striker, Jay Rodriguez, insisting that the Lancashire-born front-man was terrific in the Saints under-21’s 5-0 triumph over Liverpool last Sunday. Rodriguez netted a hat-trick as he stepped up his recovery from his foot injury which has had him ruled out since mid-October.

Hunter praised Rodriguez for his actions, both on and off the pitch, and told Southampton’s website of his delight.

He was leading the young players with his performance, but also in the way he spoke to them in the dressing room and at the hotel before the game.

It’s great to have players like that at the club, that can really help the younger players to develop.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images Sport

Although Rodriguez scored a hat-trick, Hunter has stated what a help he has been to the younger players like Jake Flannigan and Marcus Barnes and has inspired them to put in that extra ten percent to recover from their respective injuries.

He’s been around the young players like Jake Flannigan and Marcus Barnes and has given them a lift, they can see how hard he has worked to get back to fitness, and they are doing the same at present.

After playing 80 minutes last Sunday, Rodriguez is in contention for Saints’ next away trip; Leicester, whom he made his last Premier League appearance against back in October in a 2-2 draw at St Mary’s.

Rodriguez will return with former Burnley teammate, Charlie Austin, who is back in training after recovering from a hamstring injury which he sustained against Bournemouth earlier this month. There is now real competition amongst the Southampton strike force and that competition can only be considered healthy as the Saints look to qualify for Europe for the second season running.

How highly do you rate Rodriguez?

Read more from Max Burke