VIDEO: A dream for Jay Rodriguez
NEWLY-capped England Under 21 international Jay Rodriguez hopes to have done enough to earn a second opportunity.
The Clarets forward made his Three Lions bow against Italy at the Stadio Carlo Castellani in Empoli on Tuesday, as a second-half substitute for James Vaughan.
And while the 21-year-old is now solely focused on helping Burnley win three points at Watford tomorrow, he admits he would love the opportunity to impress Stuart Pearce again, with two more friendlies to come next month, ahead of the European Championship Finals in Denmark in June.
England travel to face Denmark on March 24th, before returning to home soil to host Iceland at Deepdale four days later, and Rodriguez looked back on a proud moment.
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He said: “It’s unbelievable. I’m still a little bit shocked, but it was a great experience for me and hopefully it can carry on.
“I was a little bit nervous when the manager said I was going on, I put the shirt on and couldn’t really believe I was doing it.
“But I focused on doing well and trying to take it all in and enjoy it.
“My dad had said not to try and do too much, try too hard, just try to play your normal game, and that’s all you can do.
“That’s what he’s always told me.
“But I was pleased with how it went.
“Obviously we got beat 1-0, but I don’t think we deserved to, I think we played better than Italy.
“I would just have liked a goal, but I’d always like a goal!”
Pearce has watched the Burnley-born frontman during the season, culminating in his first call-up, and the England legend was pleased with his half-hour performance.
Rodriguez said: “Stuart just said ‘well done’ and ‘good debut’, that was it really.
“But the experience was massive for me, it was nice to be a part of it.
“It would be great to play again, especially at Preston, but I’ve got to focus on playing for Burnley now, keep picking points up and hopefully winning at Watford.
“That’s all I can focus on, and fingers crossed, hopefully it will happen again for me.”
Rodriguez didn’t get the chance to impress in training, after fog forced the squad to land a three-hour coach ride from their base, but he was thrilled to get a chance to play.
He said: “I never got to train with the squad due to fog, as we had to fly further out and then had a three-hour coach journey to the hotel where we were staying, but it was still good to meet all the lads and the staff, and obviously to get on in the game was brilliant.
“I just thought if I could get any time on the pitch, it would be brilliant, but with not having a training session, I thought it might be a bit difficult to get on.
“When he said I was going on, I was chuffed to bits. I just wanted to get out there.”
Rodriguez seemingly takes everything in his stride, and, typically, the experience hasn’t changed him whatsoever.
He said: “I still feel the same. It’s been a great experience, but nothing’s changed.
“It’s pretty mad if you look back, and I was playing in the reserves at Stalybridge Celtic against Oldham at the start of the season.
“It’s a long way to come, but hopefully it carries on and I can keep improving myself.
“I just try to work hard every time I go out training or play, try to make myself better, and hopefully you get some sort of reward in the end, but you’ve just got to be patient and try and keep improving yourself.”
Rodriguez’s next challenge is to look to put one over on Under-21 international keeper Scott Loach and Watford at Vicarage Road tomorrow, looking to add to his six goals so far this campaign, including the late winner against Norwich on Saturday that sent him off on international duty in good spirits.
Burnley take on the Hornets lying six points outside the play-off places with a game in hand on Leeds, with the same points total they had after the same number of games – 29 – when they were promoted via the play-offs two years ago.