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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Netherlands call up Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk made his first start of the season at Stoke.

Netherlands coach Dick Advocaat has added Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk to his squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Sweden.

Van Dijk had been omitted from the 24-man squad named by Advocaat last week but was called up on Monday.

After a summer in which he was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool, the central defender started for the first time this season in the 2-1 defeat at Stoke.

Netherlands are third in Group A, four points behind leaders France and three behind second-place Sweden, and travel to Belarus before hosting Sweden.

Group winners qualify automatically for next year's World Cup in Russia, with the top eight second-placed teams advancing to European playoffs.

Sweden have a better goal difference than Netherlands so could lose one of their last two matches, against Luxembourg and the Dutch, and still finish at least second even if Advocaat's side win both their games.

"The most important thing is that we win and then see how many goals we can score,'' Advocaat said.

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