SOUTHAMPTON changes would potentially increase Burnley’s chances of FA Cup progress, but Kieran Trippier is hoping he will get the opportunity to go head to head with his old pal Jay Rodriguez tomorrow.
The Clarets face Premier League Southampton in the third round at St Mary’s with both clubs likely to make some alterations to the line-ups they named on New Year’s Day.
Former Clarets Jack Cork and Danny Fox are also in the Southampton squad, but the one name everyone in Burnley will be looking for on the Saints teamsheet will be Rodriguez.
The former Clarets ace is the Saints’ top scorer, with nine goals so far this season.
It would seem to be advantageous to Burnley’s hopes of a cup upset if Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino opted to rest Rodriguez for the game.
But Trippier, who played alongside Rodriguez at Burnley during the 2011/12 season, hopes his friend will be on the field tomorrow.
In particular, the right back hopes Rodriguez starts on Southampton’s left to set up an intriguing duel.
“When the draw came up I was buzzing a little bit,” Trippier admitted about the prospect of facing the south coast side, who lost 3-0 at home to Chelsea on New Year’s Day.
“Not the journey down there, but it’s a good test for us against a Premier League side who are in form.
“They might rest some players because they’ve had the Chelsea game but they’ve got the players to do that.
“But all of us are hoping that Jay Rod plays. I’m looking forward to meeting up with him.
“I hope he’s playing on the left wing because I’ll be getting into him!”
Rodriguez netted twice in Southampton’s win at Cardiff last weekend and has impressed so much since joining the south coast side for £7m that he earned his first England cap in November, in a friendly against Chile.
Trippier thinks his former team-mate has improved significantly since leaving Burnley as a Clarets hero, having already shown real signs of his potential.
It would be the first time Rodriguez has faced Burnley since leaving.
“It will be good to play against him because I can learn a lot from him,” said the full back.
“He’s played so many games in the Premier League and he’s a different player from when he was here.
“It’s good to play against the best and I think Jay a Rod is.
“He’s a quality player and he can go on to be the best.
“It’s good that Roy Hodgson has given him the chance for England.
“He scored another two in the Premier League the other day and it wouldn’t surprise me if he goes on to bigger things.”
Burnley went out of the FA Cup in the third round at Barnsley last season and Trippier says that, despite the focus on a promotion challenge, a cup run this season would be important to the club.
“It means a lot,” he said.
“You want to take things game by game but you want to get as far as you can in the cup.
“It’s a massive test for us on Saturday but there’s no-one saying you can’t go there and win, and that’s what we’re going to try to do.
“I think it’s going to be an interesting game.”
Trippier scored his first league goal of the season in the New Year’s Day 3-2 win over Huddersfield, when he also set up Danny Ings’ second of the game.
“It was a good start to the year, getting a goal and another assist for Ingsy,” he said.
“But most importantly it was good to get the three points and kick on for Saturday.
“It was good to get on the scoresheet because it rarely happens to me.
“The gaffer always talks about being the man to make the difference and I thought there were a lot of people doing that.
“For me to get another assist as well, I’m trying to beat last year when I got 11. I’m not far away now with a lot of games to go.”