Burnley striker Jay Rodriguez hopes his four-goal Carabao Cup haul against Rochdale is enough to earn him a Premier League start at Leicester on Saturday.
The 32-year-old staked his claim for a top-flight recall by scoring all Burnley’s goals at Turf Moor in the second half of their 4-1 third-round win.
He has started all bar one of the Clarets’ Premier League games this season on the bench, but a 12-minute hat-trick and a late fourth has given manager Sean Dyche food for thought.
Rodriguez said: “The main thing is to get through to the next round. I can just control what I can control and will keep my head down and work hard and whatever I need to do for the team I will do.
“I will always work my hardest and do the best I can do, but it was a great feeling to score four and for the team to get the win, so hopefully it will kick us on now.”
The former Southampton and West Brom forward, in his third season back at his hometown club, is vying for a starting place with Chris Wood, Matej Vydra and Ashley Barnes.
Rodriguez, who was on the bench in Burnley’s final 10 Premier League games last season, started in the opening-day home defeat to Brighton, but Wood and Barnes have paired together in the top flight since.
“It’s one of them, it happens in football,” he said. “When you do get on the pitch, try and affect things as much as you can.
“It’s difficult because you’re in and out, and as a player you always want consistency and for that you need to play consistently.
“But in training you try and maximise yourself as much as you can, keep yourself fit and ready.”
Burnley fell behind against Rochdale to Jake Beesley’s neat finish early in the second half, but Rodriguez headed them level three minutes later.
He then drilled home a right-footed shot before heading home at the near post to complete his hat-trick and added a fourth with a lucky deflection off Eoghan O’Connell’s attempted clearance.
Rochdale, relegated to Sky Bet League Two last season, gave manager Robbie Stockdale plenty of reasons for optimism until Burnley’s extra quality told in the second half.
Stockdale said: “We more than held our own for a large part of the game, probably until 60 minutes when the second goal went in.
“We gave them problems with our ability to keep the ball and we scored a really good goal.
“But it’s relentless – you’re playing against Premier League players and the pressures they put you under are constant. It was a great learning curve for our players, especially the younger ones.”
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