September 16, 2017 / 3:29 PM / 10 months ago

SHOWCASE-Soccer-Van Dijk given his first minutes of season in Palace win

LONDON, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Southampton’s Virgil van Dijk played his first few minutes of the season in their 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Saturday with manager Mauricio Pellegrino hoping for three months without transfer issues involving the Dutch defender.

Van Dijk was sidelined from the Saints first-team squad while they fended off approaches from Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea during the still-open transfer window in the first month of the Premier League season.

Pellegrino sent van Dijk on for the final 10 minutes at Selhurst Park and said he hoped the controversy surrounding the Dutch player’s desire to move to a bigger club was over at least until the January transfer window.

“You know our world is big business these days and around him there is a lot of interest but now we have to leave that aside,” the Argentine, in his first season in charge, said.

“I don’t know about the market in January, we can bring in players, all squads can improve, it’s the same for other (teams) and Virgil is one case, he’s one of the best players in the Premier League.”

Pellegrino hopes van Dijk will soon command a first-team place that earned him the captain’s armband last season after a mixed start to the campaign.

It was Saints’ second win in five matches with eight points on the board.

“It was an important win, to win on this (small Palace) pitch is not easy... We controlled the ball and that’s something to improve,” Pochettino said as he looked ahead to their match at home to Manchester United next Saturday. (Reporting by Rex Gowar; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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