Southampton should have kept Jay Rodriguez and sold Shane Long in 2017

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Having found first-team minutes hard to come by under Claude Puel during the 2016/17 campaign, Southampton sold Jay Rodriguez to West Bromwich Albion in the summer of 2017, with Shane Long remaining at the club, but that is now looking to be a huge error of judgement by executive vice-chairman Les Reed.

What’s the word, then?

Well, even though Saints struggled for goals during their one and only season with Puel, it was Charlie Austin and Shane Long that often got the nod ahead of Rodriguez in attack.

That obviously led to frustration for the one-time England international as he finally looked to have fully recovered from the devastating injury he suffered in 2014 prior to the World Cup, and he knew that he probably needed a consistent run in the starting XI to get his sharpness back.

That certainly happened at the Hawthorns last term despite Albion’s relegation to the Championship, as he ended a difficult season for the west Midlands outfit with 11 goals in 42 appearances in all competitions.

Was it a mistake to sell him?

It’s proving that it probably was, yes.

Rodriguez has not only proven his goalscoring prowess in England’s second tier with six goals in eight league appearances so far this term – including two in the 4-2 success against Bristol City at the Hawthorns on Tuesday night – but he is also the perfect pressing striker that current Saints boss Mark Hughes seems to prefer right now given Shane Long and Danny Ings have been the regular strike-force in recent weeks.

While Long is effective at being a pain with his pace and generally being a nuisance for opposition defenders, he doesn’t have that goalscoring touch – as was proven with his dreadful one-on-one attempt against Brighton last time out – that Rodriguez does, and it must go down as a huge error by the Southampton board to not only keep the Republic of Ireland international at St Mary’s back then, but also to sell the St Mary’s fans’ favourite.