Jay Rodriguez makes England U21 debut

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JAY Rodriguez made his England Under 21 debut this afternoon as Stuart Pearce’s side lost 1-0 to a late penalty at Empoli.

Burnley-born Rodriguez was a second half substitute, coming on on the hour mark for James Vaughan, and took the step up to international level in his stride.

With teammate Jack Cork, the best player on the pitch, an early replacement for Everton’s Jack Rodwell, Rodriguez, playing through the middle, showed some lovely touches and link play, winning more than his fair share of aerial duels, but was somewhat starved of service.

Italy won with a penalty four minutes from time, with Manchester United striker Federico Macheda, currently on loan at Sampdoria, finally breaking free of the shackles of Cork to score from the spot.

Rodriguez is only the third Burnley player to win England Under 21 honours after Richard Chaplow and Cork, on a season-long loan from Chelsea, while Burnley-born Chris Casper, son of former Clarets boss Frank, also represented the Under 21s while at Manchester United in the mid-1990s.