Wednesday January 11, 2017
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Southampton’s Jay Rodriguez in action against Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele during their Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium, December 28, 2016. — Reuters picSouthampton’s Jay Rodriguez in action against Tottenham’s Mousa Dembele during their Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium, December 28, 2016. — Reuters picLONDON, Jan 11 — Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez has hailed Tottenham Hotspur’s Mauricio Pochettino as the best manager he has ever worked with, having spent a season under the Argentine at St Mary’s.

Pochettino, who was with the Saints in the 2013-14 season before joining Spurs, was the first to call the injury-ravaged Rodriguez after his double against Bournemouth last month.

“Mauricio is the best coach, the best manager and best person I’ve ever worked with,” Rodriguez told British media ahead of today’s League Cup semi-final at home to Liverpool.

“He knows how much I appreciate what he has done and what he still does for me. He constantly speaks to me.

“He is still supporting me and his staff are the same. He is an unbelievable manager and a person.”

The 27-year-old missed the whole of the 2014-15 season after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament and was out for another seven months last term after undergoing surgery on his foot.

Since he was signed by Southampton from Burnley in 2012, the south-coast club have failed to hold on to several key players.

They have lost defenders Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and Dejan Lovren, midfielders Adam Lallana, Morgan Schneiderlin and Sadio Mane and strikers Graziano Pelle and Rickie Lambert.

Saints are close to losing another first-team player, with defender Jose Fonte handing in a transfer request last week,

Rodriguez, however, knows the team can still deliver results in the second half of the season.

“You have to stay focused and realise what you need to do to move forward. Every situation has been different as to why players have left,” the 27-year-old added.

“The main thing was everyone had to stick to the philosophy of, ‘We need to improve on last year’.”

Southampton are 10th in the Premier League with 24 points from 20 games and visit Burnley on Saturday. — Reuters

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