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 By PA Sport

Virgil van Dijk could end Southampton exile against Crystal Palace - Pellegrino

Virgil van Dijk Southampton training
Virgil van Dijk has not played for Southampton since January.

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk could end his exile this weekend, according to manager Mauricio Pellegrino.

Van Dijk handed in a transfer request over the summer amid strong speculation linking him with a move away from St Mary's.

The Netherlands international has not featured in any of Southampton's five matches so far this campaign due to the uncertainty over his future, and has not played competitively since suffering a foot ligament injury against Leicester in January.

He was selected for an under-23s game on Monday -- a 4-0 defeat to Aston Villa -- and may now be a surprise inclusion for the Premier League fixture at Crystal Palace on Saturday as he attempts to get his career back on track.

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.''

Van Dijk, who was linked with a host of clubs including Liverpool and Chelsea, will be sticking with Southampton until at least January following the closure of the summer transfer window.

He captained Southampton last season, but Pellegrino was coy on whether the former Celtic man would reclaim the armband from midfielder Steven Davis.

"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.''

Saturday's trip to Selhurst Park will see Southampton come up against former England boss Roy Hodgson.

The 70-year-old returned to management this week for the first time since leaving the national team job, replacing the sacked Frank de Boer in the Palace dugout.

Pellegrino is unsure whether the managerial change will make the game more difficult for his side.

"Yes and no,'' he said. "Yes because we don't have too much reference about them. We know how Roy Hodgson was playing in the past but when you have got another group of players, everything changes. And no because 90 percent of our job is to think about us, about our style, our model.''

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