Jay Rodriguez says he feels fully fit and is hoping for a quick return to first-team contention after making his comeback from injury in Southampton Under-21s’ 3-1 win at Middlesbrough.
The striker, who had been out since mid-October with a foot injury that required surgery, played the first hour of yesterday’s victory at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park stadium.
Rodriguez, who has been back in training with Ronald Koeman’s first team in recent weeks, was delighted to get a run out for Technical Director Martin Hunter’s side and revealed he felt in good condition throughout.
"It was nice,” he told Southampton’s official YouTube channel. “It was a tough game, but it was nice to be out there and get a good run out.
"I felt good. Martin asked how I was and I felt alright, but I think he wanted to get Fela (Olufela Olomola) on, and he did well when he came on, but it was nice.
"I feel fully fit now, I think it's just obviously match fitness and by playing hopefully I can improve.”
Rodriguez also indicated that, having got a game under his belt, he is hopeful of soon being considered for a return to first-team action.
"I feel now that I've played a game, a competitive game, it's just a case of see what happens and just try and work hard and keep improving,” he said.
Having missed the entirety of the 2014/15 campaign as he recovered from a serious knee injury, Rodriguez was frustrated when the niggling foot problem delayed his progress earlier this campaign, but he is confident those troubles are now behind him.
"It (the latest injury) was just stopping me from performing how I wanted to perform, but now I feel great, I feel free and I'm looking forward to it,” said Rodriguez.
“My knee feels good, I feel strong, I feel fit now. I wasn't blowing out there and I thought I would be, so it's good.”