Forgotten England men show Saints the way to climb table
Neither of Southampton duo Charlie Austin or Jay Rodriguez have cemented a starting place in the Premier League yet this season, yet both men have been so vogue in the recent past that England came calling.
New Saints manager Claude Puel may now have to reassess his selection policy though.
The former Burnley hotshots took their respective tallies to two for the campaign in a convincing 3-0 win over Sparta Prague, ensuring Southampton began their Europa League quest in satisfying fashion at St Marys.
We now make Southampton clear 10/11 favourites to win Group K after Inter Milan’s shock 2-0 home defeat to Israeli minnows Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the other fixture.
Austin bagged himself a brace against the Czechs, netting once from the spot, while for the second time already this term Rodriguez came off the bench to pounce late on.
Considering how goal-shy the second-from-bottom Saints have been in their opening four league fixtures – Nathan Redmond is the only other scorer – Puel pairing the Englishmen for the next match at home to Swansea seems a very sensible option indeed.
It’s been a particularly rocky road to recovery for J-Rod, who is 9/2 to have the final say against the Swans.
Having made his England debut in November 2013, a spree of league goals had taken his tally up to 15 by March of that second season as a Saint and talk of a spot in the 2014 World Cup squad abounded.
A ruptured anterior cruciate ligamnet put paid to those ambitions and any involvement whatsoever in the 2014/15 season, limiting his 2015/16 involvement too, so this return to form has been a long time coming for the 27-year-old.
Meanwhile, Austin’s prolific spell at former club QPR, where he netted 18 Premier League goals before going down with the Hoops, meant he arrived with a big reputation in January.
However, a record of one goal in 10 Premier League appearances has since diluted his reputation slightly.
Saints fans, and even Three Lions boss Sam Allardyce, will be hoping the centre-forward is now ready to begin firing regularly again.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.