Van Dijk closes on Saints return

15 July 2017 06:53:08 EST

Southampton head coach Mauricio Pellegrino has confirmed that injury-hit centre-back Virgil van Dijk is not too far away from a return to full training.

The Netherlands international, who has been linked with several top Premier League clubs in recent months, has not featured since suffering a serious foot injury against Leicester City in January.

Little by little he is increasing the intensity and he is working in a good way.

Mauricio Pellegrino

He is currently back in training with the Saints, but is not yet ready to feature in the upcoming pre-season friendlies, with Pellegrino being cautious in his approach.

He told the club's official website: "He is okay. He was doing 80 per cent of the job in the training sessions.

"We were leaving him outside some exercises for medical prevention. We know he has got an injury where we have to avoid the contact, and just for this reason we leave him outside.

"But little by little he is increasing the intensity and he is working in a good way."

Pellegrino has only made one major signing since taking charge of the Saints, with Poland Under-21 international central defender Jan Bednarek having joined from Lech Poznan for a fee in the region of £5million.

Southampton finished in eighth place in the Premier League last season, while they also reached the league Cup, where they were beaten 3-2 by Manchester United.

The South Coast outfit are 500/1 to finish in the top half of the league table next season, with West Ham available at 33/1 and West Bromwich Albion 1000/1.

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