Nobody will ever know just how Jay Rodriguez’s career would have panned out had he not ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in April 2014.
Aged 24 at the time, the striker was rumoured to be in contention for a 2014 World Cup slot after a stunning season with Southampton where he netted 17 goals in 39 appearances.
The former Burnley striker missed the entirety of the 2014-15 campaign, not playing as much as a minute.
The following season proved equally frustrating with continual fitness problems leading to an absence of his previous form with no Premier League goals in any of his 12 appearances. His 30-month top-flight goal drought finally ended with the Saints last season.
A good move
Last summer’s switch to West Bromwich Albion has proven greatly beneficial for the striker on an individual basis, even if the side has had a traumatic campaign.
11 goals in 38 appearances to date represent an excellent goal return, particularly in a side known for their lack of creativity aside from their set-piece threat.
The 28-year-old has been used in a variety of roles this season, primarily as a striker but also in the ‘number 10’ role and on each wing, both in advanced and more withdrawn positions.
His versatility is viewed as a great bonus especially as his contribution and adaptability are among his strongest assets.
An industrious style of play
The Burnley-native is known for his industrious style of play, harrying opponents into conceding possession and drifting between the midfield and attack.
He usually thrives with a target man – such as the Baggies Salomon Rondon – while Rodriguez himself is adept in the air. He likes to cut inside from wide and drift between the lines, making him a nightmare for opposition defences – who are regularly pulled out from their positions.
It may not be quite enough to re-launch his international career (his cap tally still stands at one following a runout in 2013) but he certainly has enough quality to attract enough attention from a variety of top-flight sides.
The best version
New Baggies caretaker boss Darren Moore appears to have rediscovered the best version of the striker, who has produced ‘Man of the Match’ performances in back-to-back matches – against Swansea and then Manchester United. With three goals in his last four games, he has scored 75% of his side’s goals in that period.
With reported growing financial problems surrounding the Hawthorns, the striker could be available at a very attractive price over summer.
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