Jay Rodriguez: Strikers’ battle at West Brom is good for us
Jay Rodriguez reckons his ongoing battle with Dwight Gayle to be Baggies top scorer is driving the pair on to score even more goals this season.
Rodriguez now has 12 goals to his name following a Boxing Day brace and sits just one behind top scorer Gayle, who lashed in a hat-trick four days previously.
Although there is no definitive time frame for his return, Gayle is expected to miss the next two games after limping off with a hamstring strain against Wigan.
But Rodriguez is looking forward to him returning because he believes the healthy competition between the pair is spurring them on to get even better.
He said: “Hopefully Dwight won’t be out for too long, we know how hard he will work to get back as soon as possible. We know how important he is for us and everyone will be behind him to get back.
“Another three for Dwight, we would have won the game and I would be 100 per cent pleased for him.
“It helps with the banter in the dressing room, he always gives me a bit of grief Dwight, but it is good.
“It is all healthy and that is the main thing, we are buzzing for each other when we score and you can see that on the pitch, there is a good atmosphere out there at the moment.”
Rodriguez was one of the stand out performers on Boxing Day, but he reserved praise for the oldest and arguably best player on the park.
Gareth Barry has earned plaudits for his recent displays, and it was no different against Wigan as he controlled the centre of the park, where everything went through him.
The striker said he and other Albion players are learning all the time from the veteran, who he described as a pleasure to play with.
He added: “Gazza is someone you look up to as a player. You watch him in training and just bounce off little ideas he has.
“Even in games I’m always trying to learn from him because I think he’s a legend of the game.
“His brain – he’s probably the cleverest player I’ve played with. He’s someone we all appreciate massively.
“He’s unreal and it’s a pleasure to play with him.”