Jay Rodriguez says the prospect of facing former club Burnley in December is helping his motivation to return from injury as quickly as possible.
The Southampton forward suffered a serious knee injury in April which ended his chances of going to the World Cup with England.
The initial prognosis was that Rodriguez would be sidelined for around six months, and he has been pleased with the early part of his recovery.
Rodriguez has now vowed to keep working hard in his rehabilitation to make sure he comes back quickly, and has set his sights on the trip to Turf Moor on 13 December as a game he does not want to miss.
“I want to be able to be fit to play in that and go back to Burnley. That is certainly my aim,” he said in the Lancashire Telegraph.
“I haven’t got a specific comeback date from injury and it is just about working through the phases at the moment. I think there are six phases to the recovery and when we get to stage six we can start looking at putting a timescale on it.
“But seeing the Burnley fixture in December definitely helps with motivation and I really want to play a part.
“It will be great to go back and see all the fans and be able to play at Turf Moor again and see some of the players and people at the club.
“The Burnley game was the first fixture I looked out for.
“I am starting to see some positives with me knee and I am feeling good about the recovery. Hopefully it will go to plan.”
Rodriguez is looking forward to working under Ronald Koeman when he returns to fitness, having seen the Dutchman take charge at St Mary’s following Mauricio Pochettino’s move to Tottenham Hotspur.
“I met Ronald Koeman very briefly,” added Rodriguez. “He is obviously a legend in the game and played at the very highest level. I am excited about working with him.
“He asked me how the injury was and how I was getting on. It was only a very brief chat but it was nice to be able to meet him.
“I can’t wait to get back training again and working with him and hopefully it will be a good move for Southampton to bring him in.”