Jay Rodriguez was on the verge of making England’s World Cup squad when disaster struck at the Etihad Stadium in April 2014.
The Southampton forward damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in the game against Manchester City, the venue where he could make his long-awaited return on the final day of the current campaign this Sunday.
In order to play a part this weekend, Rodriguez must first prove his fitness tonight in the under-21 game against City as Ronald Koeman looks to ease him back into the fold, which is sensible given the amount of time he has spent on the sidelines.
Rodriguez is quick and versatile. He can play on the left of a front three or down the centre of the pitch and was prolific under Mauricio Pochettino before his horrific injury.
The 25-year-old had scored 15 league goals last term and captain Jose Fonte believes that Rodriguez will be like a new signing next season, after signing a new four-year deal at the club recently - as covered by the BBC.
Fonte told the Southern Daily Echo, "It’s just a relief that he’s back now. I know what he’s been through and I don’t wish that to anyone, so I’m just glad that he’s back and fit again and, hopefully, next season he’ll be like a new signing for us.”
The Portuguese defender hopes that Nathanial Clyne and Morgan Schneiderlin will follow Rodriguez’s lead by signing new deals at Southampton. He continued, "Having Jay for the next [four] years I think is massive. It’s a big statement for the club, the intent of the club, and now we just need to try and get Morgan and Clyney too.”
Southampton go into the clash with City looking to better Tottenham Hotspur’s weekend result in order to guarantee Europa League qualification for next season, although seventh place will also be enough should Arsenal beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup final later this month.