Former Claret Jay Rodriguez sees no reason why he won’t be playing against his old club again next season - in the Premier League.
Rodriguez netted Southampton’s third goal on Saturday in Saints’ 4-3 FA Cup third round win over Burnley at St Mary’s.
It was the first time he had faced his hometown club, 18 months after becoming Burnley’s £7m record sale.
The 24-year-old showed great respect for Burnley, refusing to celebrate his strike, and went over to the Clarets fans at full time to show his appreciation for the welcome they gave him, cheering him onto the pitch with chants of “He’s one of our own.”
Rodriguez is delighted to see Burnley challenging to join Saints in the top flight, and the England international said: ““Fingers crossed lets hope they do. I don’t see why not.
“They’ve got the belief there and that’s the main thing. Hopefully they can do it.
“They’re a solid side and have great attacking players so it’s a good combination.
“Burnley have always got the fight so it’s no surprise they pulled it back against us.”
A compelling cup tie swung one way and the other, with Burnley recovering a two-goal deficit, only to fall 4-2 behind, before pulling another goal back five minutes from time.
And Rodriguez smiled: “It wasn’t good for the heart!”
But while he took his goal tally to 10 for the season - the only English strikers with more goals in the Premier League are Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge - he admitted he was never going to celebrate: “I’ve got to show my respect to Burnley. They brought me a long way, I was with them when I was growing up and it’s where I’m from.
“I had quite a few friends and family down so it was a nice occasion for them.
“I haven’t seen them over Christmas so it will be nice to spend time with them now.
“They’ve come down to see me but they were in the Burnley end.
“They’ll be disappointed with the result but glad to see me playing.
“It did feel weird coming on against the lads
“It was a good feeling though and nice to see them, and the Burnley fans.”
And he was thrilled with the reception from the fans: “It was really nice. I appreciated that and I appreciate the support since I’ve moved away.”