Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino says defender Virgil van Dijk could return to first team action on Saturday against Crystal Palace. However, the Argentine coach spoke of the unlikelihood van Dijk returns to the first team with the captain’s armband in tow.
As per the Press Association [H/T ESPN] Pellegrino said: "Virgil was training well. He played 90 minutes the other day, the reserve game. But tomorrow [Friday] we will decide [whether he features against Palace].
"Hopefully he will be getting better every single week but I am happy with that -- not just about Virgil because everybody I think is ready to be part of the team.
"For me the captain is something that the teammates decide and something that you have to deserve,'' he added. "Now, when he's not playing, you cannot put the captain on someone that is not playing, but obviously Virgil was one of the leaders of the squad.''
Van Dijk hasn’t featured for the Saints first team since picking up an ankle injury in January at home to Leicester City last season. He then handed in a transfer request in attempt to force a move to Liverpool.
The Dutchman, however, did complete 90 minutes for the Southampton U23s in a 4-0 loss against Aston Villa’s youth side midweek.
Rusty from a lack of match fitness or not, the verdict of van Dijk’s performance was pretty damning.