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Rodriguez praises Pochettino impact

Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez believes his own form can be put down to the faith shown in him by manager Mauricio Pochettino.

The 23-year-old arrived from Burnley in the summer of 2012 for a then club-record fee of seven million pounds.

However, the performances of Rickie Lambert and Nigel Adkins’ decision to ease him into the side restricted his initial impact on the south coast.

But since the arrival of Pochettino, Rodriguez has become a regular member of the Argentine’s starting XI and has scored three times since late January including the opener on Saturday at home to Chelsea where his deftly-taken opening goal set Saints on their way to a 2-1 win.

“The manager has put his faith in me,” the former England Under-21 international told the club’s official website.

“He gives you belief that you should be on the pitch because he’s played me and given me a chance. All I can keep doing is to try and do my best for him, and for the team.

“I was chuffed with the goal but, like I always say, it’s the three points that matter.”

After Rodriguez’s strike was cancelled out by John Terry, the Saints’ winner came from a long-range Lambert free-kick, which the 31-year-old’s strike partner had nothing but praise for.

“Rickie’s was a great goal as well,” he said. “We were disappointed with the goal we conceded, but we went straight back in front.

“Rickie’s class showed with the free-kick. When you’ve got someone like that in your team it is a lot easier.

“We just looked at this as another game against a good side. We took the game to them again and stuck to our game plan – and it worked.”

After Pochettino’s men had caught the eye in the first half with their attacking play, the hosts had to show defensive fortitude in the second period to keep out the reigning European champions.

“You’ve got expect (to defend) against Chelsea because they’re a great side and they’re the European champions,” Rodriguez said.

“We stuck with it and ground out a win where we probably would have crumbled earlier in the season. That shows how good defensively we are now.”

The win moves Saints up into 12th position, albeit only four points above the drop zone and Rodriguez is wary of celebrating survival just yet, particularly with a trip to relegation rivals Reading next week.

“It’s still tight down there, so we’re going to concentrate on ourselves because that’s all we can affect,” he said.

“Our next game is our most important game – that’s what we all think and we’ll be working all week for that.

“It’s important that we get three points to move us up the table. We’ll work out a strategy and a tactic to play against them, and work hard to win the game.”

Sun 31 March, 2013
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