Jay Rod excited by first Turf return

Jay Rodriguez in action against Bournemouth
Jay Rodriguez in action against Bournemouth

Burnley fans have helped make Turf Moor a real fortress this season.

But they will reserve a special welcome for an opposition player tomorrow - although he admits he expects his family and friends to give him some stick!

Jay Rodriguez is expected to make his first appearance back at the club he left in the summer of 2012 for £7m.

The 27-year-old former Barden High School pupil netted 41 goals in 128 appearances after coming through the ranks, and has since hit 33 in 106 games for Southampton.

Clear of injury after some awful luck over the last three years, he is back in town looking to build on his match-winning brace in the south coast derby against his old Clarets boss Eddie Howe's Bournemouth just before Christmas.

And he is exciting to be back on the Turf: "I've been back before but not played - I've watched a few games, I watched them beat Blackburn last year, but it will be nice hopefully to play.

"I think it will be a bit weird, it's five years this summer since I left, but I always enjoyed playing at the Turf and I'm looking forward to it.

"It will be a buzz to go back, but you have to treat it as another game.

"All my family and friends will be there and I'm sure they'll give me a bit of stick for the 90 minutes, but that's okay.

"It'll be a great occasion."

Rodriguez has twice played against his old club, scoring - and not celebrating - in a 4-3 FA Cup third round win at St Mary's three years ago, while featuring as a substitute in the Saints' 3-1 home win earlier this season, and he added: "I've always looked to draw Burnley in the cups, and we got them at home a few years ago, but it will be great to go back.

"It's great to go back for a Premier League game, with Burnley doing so well, and I'm made up for them.

"I think they'll go on and stay up, but hopefully we can get the points on Saturday."

Burnley are looking for a sixth home win in seven games, having taken 22 of their 23 points at the Turf, but the England international knows what to expect from the dressing rooms and elements: "It will be a tough game, they have a really good home record and they deserve it from what I've seen.

"It will be difficult to go there and get a result, especially with the way they play at home - they make it tough for anyone there.

"The away changing rooms are pretty small, it will be cold, and the fans get behind them - the atmosphere can be hard for the opposition - but we've been to a few grounds like that this season.

"It can be a factor but for the majority of the lads it's not an issue."

And Southampton arrive looking to build on Wednesday night's impressive 1-0 win over Liverpool in the EFL Cup semi-final first leg.

They have lost their last three Premier League games, however, and Rodriguez admitted: "We had a disappointing period over Christmas, and we've had a lot of games, which has been tough on the players at times, but the priority is to pick up points and move up the table.

"We have to focus on what we do best.

"We did really well against Liverpool on Wednesday and might have won by more. Hopefully we can finish the job there, but it will be tough. They are a really good side, but the lads dug in and we will take a lead up there."

Rodriguez experienced League Cup semi-final heartbreak with Burnley eight years ago, scoring a last-gasp goal to make it 3-0 against Tottenham at Turf Moor to cancel out Spurs' 4-1 first leg lead - only for two late strikes in extra time to kill dreams of a Wembley final with Manchester United.

He smiled: "It's crazy where the time has gone. It was a mega night, it was just a shame we didn't get through.

"We weren't sure whether we'd done it after I scored, but the away goal rule isn't a good one!"

Rodriguez is expected to get the nod tomorrow in the absence of another former Claret Charlie Austin, who is out with a dislocated shoulder, having netted twice against Burnley at St Mary's.

Rodriguez said: "I'm gutted for Chas, I'm sure he'll be back soon, it's not nice to see him injured, but I'm happy to be playing again.

"I feel very good and all I've wanted was to get back playing as much football as I can.

"I'm hopefully finding the rhythm of the game again now."