Former Clarets striker Jay Rodriguez admits his England experience to date has been surreal.
The Burnley-born Saint, who moved to St Mary’s in a £7m. transfer in June last year, met up with his international team-mates at St George’s Park yesterday (Tuesday) after earning his first Three Lions call-up ahead of the Wembley double-header against Chile and Germany.
The 24-year-old, who was joined by fellow Southampton stars Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana in the squad, told TheFA.com: “It was really exciting driving up, We were anxious to meet everyone. We were asking Rickie (Lambert) about plans for the week and how he found it. It’s been a good experience so far.
“It’s very good to meet all the players and staff and see how things run. The pace and the quality [in training] is unreal, it’s something I’ve learned so far in just a short session. It’s great to be on the training pitch with these players who are in the squad.”
He added: “I’ve always watched Gerrard and Lampard, they are unbelievable, so to meet them is unreal and a great feeling. I remember watching the World Cup games, it’s a bit surreal watching the games at home, and then being here is great.”
Jay Rod’s push for a start was bolstered earlier in the week with news that Manchester United forward Danny Welbeck had withdrawn from Roy Hodgson’s squad due to a knee injury that has kept him out of action since mid-October.
Now the one-time Turf Moor hitman, who has netted three times in 11 Premier League appearances this season as Southampton climbed to third in the table, is keen to make an impression.
“To be here now is really good,” he said. “Every player wants to work towards [an England call-up]. To represent your country is the best thing to do in your career.
“I just wanted to work hard, get my head down and try to improve and then my form would hopefully see me sneak in.”
He added: “I need to try to impress, work as hard as I can and see how this week goes and try to make an impression.
“I’d like to gain as much experience and take everything in and to enjoy myself. This experience has been unbelievable on a personal level.”
While Manchester City’s James Milner will also be hoping to step in for Welbeck against La Roja on Friday, Hodgson told TheFA.com Rodriguez was one of the squad’s only natural replacements for the Old Trafford striker.
“I see Jay Rodriguez as a similar style of player to Danny Welbeck,” Hodgson said. “We don’t have a lot of players like that in our squad to select from. We have more wingers and more wide midfield players but we don’t have so many wide forwards.
“Jay has done very well for Southampton, he’s played well and I think he’s deserved the chance to show what he can do in these nine days we’ve got together.”