Sport Soccer

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Southampton continue without want-away defender Virgil van Dijk

The future of Virgil van Dijk remains a hot topic at Southampton
The future of Virgil van Dijk remains a hot topic at Southampton

Southampton will continue to be without want-away defender Virgil van Dijk as they aim to extend their unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

Saints have enjoyed a positive week on the defensive front by bringing in Wesley Hoedt from Lazio and extending the contract of fellow centre-back Maya Yoshida.

But it is the future of Van Dijk - who handed in a transfer request earlier this month - which remains the hot topic.

Manager Mauricio Pellegrino confirmed Van Dijk would not be involved at Huddersfield on Saturday, although he had no comment to make on the Holland international reportedly speaking to Chelsea.

"I don't have this information, I don't want to give any opinion about that," Pellegrino said.

"Virgil's situation (is that) nothing (has) changed, I have nothing to say.

"In the future it could be possible (that Van Dijk plays alongside Hoedt) but we will never know what will happen in the future.

"We'll expect the best from Wesley, from Virgil for us. I think all of them can help the team to be stronger and this is our goal right now."

Dutchman Hoedt, also an international, completed his move to St Mary's on Tuesday and that news was quickly followed on Thursday by a new three-year deal for long-serving Japanese defender Yoshida.

Boss Pellegrino believes Hoedt, who could make his debut at the John Smith's Stadium, offers the Saints something new, while praising the attitude of Yoshida.

"Wesley is a young player, a young international, who can help us to be stronger in defence, and who is left-footed," Pellegrino added.

"He's a profile of player we don't have and can hopefully settle as quick as possible with the rest of the team to be available and we will decide tomorrow (Friday) if we can include him in the squad."

Speaking about Yoshida, Pellegrino added: "Maya has got the right mentality to grow with the team. He's a positive player, he's always open minded to learn and it's nice to keep with us a positive player.

"He's a really good professional and we want to keep our best players in the club. This is a good signing for us."

Despite a dramatic late win over West Ham last weekend and a point against Swansea on the opening day, Saints crashed out of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday with a home defeat to Sky Bet Championship Wolves.

Argentinian Pellegrino wants his players to bounce back from the upset and expects them to return to the positive form they have shown in the league when they take on the Terriers.

"We have a difficult game Saturday, away against a tough team, and we can draw some conclusions from every single experience," he said.

"Obviously, we are not happy with the result yesterday.

"Hopefully we can change and we need to react (on) Saturday to show another face.

"I think we will continue in the same way that we had been playing in the first two Premier League games. We have been playing in good performances and we have to keep going, try to learn from yesterday."

Press Association

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