Ronald Koeman believes Jay Rodriguez’s return to training this week has given everyone a boost.
The striker has not played since Saints’ defeat to Manchester City on 5th April 2014 after suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
He was back among the first team squad this week though at the Staplewood Campus, taking part in his first full training session since returning to fitness.
That, says Koeman, was a timely boost for all. “It was nice to see Jay on the pitch involved with the rest of the players,” he told Southampton’s official YouTube channel.
“I think that’s the next step. It was important for Jay for his mind to see that his is close to the team.
“It was a hard time for Jay because it was a lot of fitness, a lot of gym and not a lot with the ball. When you’re part of the group again that’s a great feeling.
“It was a great feeling for Jay personally and for the coaches and the medical staff it was great to have Jay involved in the group.
“We expected Jay back sooner to the team but he needs time and now he is close to being back and that’s a great feeling.”
The striker will not be rushed back by the manager, with the aim to up his workload over the next couple of weeks in a bid to have him play some part before the end of the campaign.
“Now it’s about doing it little by little with more parts of the sessions with contact, until now he’s had no contact with the rest of the players,” Koeman added.
“In the possession games he is a free man, in the passing exercises. Now for the next week we prepare him for contact in the middle of the players.
“Little by little he has to get used to contact. I think he needs two weeks for that and then maybe he can start to play his part.
“Maybe for the first time it will be in the Under-21s, but it all depends on how it goes next week.”