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The Saints star, who won his first England cap in November, was in the mix for a World Cup place before suffering a knee ligament injury in April and is desperate to come back

Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez is determined to come back stronger after suffering a knee injury that kept him out of the World Cup.

The 24-year-old earned his first England cap in November and had been expected to be selected in Roy Hodgson's squad for Brazil but sustained a serious knee ligament injury in the Saints' 4-1 defeat to Manchester City in April.

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Rodriguez will now have to watch from home as an England squad that includes Southampton team-mates Rickie Lambert, Adam Lallana and Luke Shaw attempt to make an impression at the finals but the former Burnley man, who scored 17 goals in all competitions last season, is upbeat.

"I know that, once I've done the rehab and done it correctly, if anything, it'll make me physically stronger," he told the Daily Mail.

"I've got time to build muscle and build my legs up to improve. I don't get the time in the season.

"I know mentally it will make me stronger because, at times, I think you need a bit of negativity in your career to overcome it."

Rodriguez is hopeful that he can quickly return to form and establish himself as an England regular.

"That's my aim," he declared. "I always said to myself that I wanted to improve every season that I play. This part of my life is very testing but I feel it's going to make me step up to the next level.

"I've got to think of the future and think: 'this is just a small part of my career'."

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