With Jay Rodriguez nearing a return to first-team action, Executive Director of Football Les Reed says now was the perfect time for him to commit his future to the club.
Rodriguez signed a contract extension until 2019 on Tuesday afternoon, as the player nears a return to full fitness following a year out of action through injury.
With the 25 year-old stepping up his recovery in recent weeks, Reed felt it was the ideal time to sit down and agree a new contract with the striker who had worked his way into the England squad before his injury setback.
“It’s always tricky when someone has such a serious injury,” Reed told Southampton’s official YouTube channel. “You then wait to negotiate his contract because they will always have concerns, certainly early in the injury, about how it’s going to turn out.
“There was a certain amount of us allowing Jay to focus on his recovery, but just to keep letting him know we want him to stay. We’ve kept a constant dialogue with his agents and there have been no problems.
“With him returning to first-team training and enjoying himself with the boys, it was the perfect opportunity to say ‘let’s sit down and polish it off’.
“He’s obviously an outstanding player, he would have gone to the World Cup and now this is all about getting him back on that pathway. I’m sure it won’t take him long.”
Reed believes that by committing his future to the club now, Rodriguez will be able to have full focus over the summer on ensuring he is back to his best for the 2015/16 campaign.
“It puts all the speculation to bed. He’s committed to us now,” added Reed. “He can just focus on a whole summer of recovering, getting the right amount of rest, flying through pre-season and coming back and banging in the goals.
“I think the message it gives out is that those kind of players believe it’s the right club to be at. It shows Jay believes there’s a chance of us not just consolidating our place in the top half but also going for the top six.
“I’m sure he’s got the ability to score the goals to get us there. It’s got to be a good message to the fans when players start committing early to it. It breeds confidence through the club.”
While Rodriguez has agreed his new deal, Reed has confirmed talks with defender Nathaniel Clyne are progressing well and hopes to have the situation resolved in the near future.
“With Clyney it’s very much been the same as with Jay in that we’ve been talking for quite a while,” Reed added. “It gets fed by speculation which doesn’t help.
“Ronald [Koeman] made a comment that there was a deadline but that deadline was more about getting a response, and that issue has been resolved.
“I’m in discussions with his agent and that has been very positive. Nathaniel has made statements that he’s happy here,” Reed continued.
“There’s bound to be speculation because he’s such a good player and has had such a good season. We have to balance that against what he can do for us in the future and what we can do for him.
“We’re at a very good place at the moment in terms of the discussions going on and I’m confident that we will have a resolution to that sooner rather than later.”