Southampton’s 2014/15 Premier League top goalscorer Jay Rodriguez will not make his return from injury this month as had been expected, after suffering a setback in his rehabilitation from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.
On first glance it’s just another miserable news line in a sea of despondency for the suffering Saints, five losses deep on a six game winless run with numerous talented players on the casualties list.
However, whereas the recent spells on the sidelines for first Morgan Schneiderlin and now Jack Cork have been immensely damaging for the south coast club, the fact that Rodriguez may now be back in contention nearer the end of January could be a blessing in disguise.
Firstly there is the matter of the pressure the team currently finds itself under, struggling to live up to supporter expectations raised by their early season excellence after going off the boil in recent weeks.
Such a misfiring outfit rates a far from ideal environment for the reintroduction of a player who has suffered such a serious injury, especially a player of whom so much would be hoped for from.
Secondly and more pragmatically it means that the exciting 25-year-old England international will be kept out of the spotlight as the January transfer window approaches.
Rodriguez, along with his Saints colleague Schneiderlin, has been constantly linked with a move away from St Mary’s since last summer’s mass exodus began, with former manager Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham one of those more consistently linked.
Returning to the fray in the window’s death throes will more than likely deliver Southampton from having to repel too many overtures for his signature.
For the former Burnley man himself, easing back into regular first-team football as the season winds down represents an ideal way to find his feet after such serious mishap.
Instead of making his comeback in the none-more-hectic Christmas period, there will be several choice opponents who have already upped sticks after securing safety against whom he can restore his confidence.