(Reuters) - Southampton’s new centre back Wesley Hoedt has backed his Netherlands team mate Virgil van Dijk to get his club career back on track after a summer of turmoil and is relishing the prospect of a strong partnership with his compatriot.
Hoedt signed for Southampton from Lazio in the close season, while Van Dijk was agitating for a move away from the club. Van Dijk has not played since handing in a transfer request that resulted in him being banished from first-team training.
“We’re both Dutch so that’s an advantage and we’re very similar so we could have a very good partnership,” Hoedt told the Southern Daily Echo.
“Not only us but we have three other central defenders (Maya Yoshida, Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek) who are really good so that’s nice. It’s always good to have competition.”
The imposing Van Dijk, who was wanted by Liverpool, played 90 minutes for Southampton’s youth side earlier this week and could return to the first team when the Saints visit Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday.
Hoedt said Southampton’s owners had issued a statement of intent by fending off interest from his fellow Dutchman’s suitors, who also included Premier League heavyweights Manchester City and champions Chelsea.
“I think they (the owners) have shown (their ambition) by keeping the team together,” he added. “That was their ambition and that’s something that I really liked.”
Southampton lost for the first time this season at the weekend, losing 2-0 at home to Watford. They are 13th having won once and drawn twice in four games but have struggled in front of goal, failing to score in three of their matches.
Palace are bottom after losing their four games without scoring and appointed former England manager Roy Hodgson as manager on Tuesday a day after sacking Dutchman Frank de Boer.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris