Virgil van Dijk: Southampton centre-back could return at Crystal Palace

Virgil van Dijk
Virgil van Dijk has missed all five of Southampton's competitive games this season

Virgil van Dijk could make his first appearance for Southampton this season at Crystal Palace on Saturday, says manager Mauricio Pellegrino.

The Netherlands centre-back, 26, handed in a transfer request in August and had said he wanted to move to Liverpool.

He has not played first-team football since sustaining an ankle injury in January but featured in the Under-23s' 4-0 defeat by Aston Villa on Monday.

"Hopefully he will be getting better every single week," said Pellegrino.

"But I am happy with that - not just about Virgil because everybody, I think, is ready to be part of the team."

Pellegrino ordered Van Dijk to train alone in July amid speculation over his future, but Saints refused to sell the former Celtic player, who signed a new six-year contract in May 2016.

Midfielder Steven Davis, who has taken over from Van Dijk as captain so far this season, said last month the Dutchman would be welcomed backexternal-link by the rest of the squad.