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Steven Davis said wantaway Virgil van Dijk would be welcomed back

Insert the possible cliche of, ‘It’d be like a new signing’.

Burnley v Southampton - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Southampton’s club captain Steven Davis expressed that the players would welcome back wantaway defender Virgil van Dijk when he rejoins the first-team.

Van Dijk has been at the forefront of an ongoing transfer saga all summer, which could come to an end on Thursday evening — when the window closes.

The 26-year-old, who has draw persistent interest from Liverpool, has been training with the Under-23s squad on the orders of manager Mauricio Pellegrino, and did not feature throughout the pre-season.

“That door has never been shut,” Davis said following Southampton’s draw at Huddersfield.

“There has been a lot made of the situation outside the club that isn’t necessarily true all the time but we will welcome him back. He’s a top quality player and he’s done well for us over the last couple of seasons.”

Van Dijk attempted to force his way out of St Mary’s by handing in a formal transfer request, but Southampton is adamant he will not be sold with the defender having signed a six-year contract extension last summer.

Despite all the supposed negativity, including a dramatic public statement from van Dijk and an apology from Liverpool, Davis is confident there will be no hard feelings come Friday.

“Everybody knows the quality that Virgil has got and what he can bring to the team,” Davis began, “and we’re obviously hopeful that we can keep hold of him and he can come back into the team and challenge for a place again because he’s a top quality centre half.”

Van Dijk has not played for Southampton since suffering an injury in January. Saints, however, entered the international break unbeaten in the Premier League.