Thursday 18 January 2018

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk plays down rivalry with Bournemouth

Southampton's Virgil van Dijk is not getting carried away by the talk of the south coast derby
Southampton's Virgil van Dijk is not getting carried away by the talk of the south coast derby

Ronald Koeman may be keen to hype Southampton against Bournemouth as a local derby but defender Virgil van Dijk intends to treat it as just another game.

With traditional rivals Portsmouth down in the fourth tier, Saints boss Koeman is keen to build a narrative with the Cherries.

But his fellow Dutchman Van Dijk, who played in the fierce Glasgow derby for Celtic against Rangers, is content to take bragging rights out of the equation on Sunday.

"It's easy to say, but I think once the game has started you just shut yourself off and focus on your teammates and winning," he told

"It's just another Premier League game.

"I'm very proud I've played in the famous derby in Scotland of course, but for us on Sunday you just want to win the game.

"For me, personally, it's not that difficult and I enjoy it really to have a lot of noise and atmosphere in the stadium anyway.

"We just need to approach it very well and get ready for everything that's going to happen. We need to win this game."

Southampton are unbeaten in six matches across all competitions but Van Dijk has nevertheless targeted an improvement, starting at the back.

They have conceded in their last five Barclays Premier League matches, giving away a two-goal start against Leicester in their previous outing at St Mary's.

"We want to do much better than we did (in the) last game at home against Leicester - control the game (for) 90 minutes and win the game," said the centre-half.

"I want to keep clean sheets now as well, instead of winning and still conceding.

"There's still a lot to improve and I'm aware of that and I want to get the maximum out of myself and out of my team, so we work hard every day.

"At the end of the day it's all about winning and progressing as a team."

Saints attackers Jay Rodriguez and Shane Long remain on the sidelines, but the recent goalscoring form of Graziano Pelle and Sadio Mane means they would have been unlikely starters anyway.

Press Association

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