Saints Defender Believes Van Dijk Return Will Make it Tougher to Maintain Starting Spot

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Southampton defender Maya Yoshida believes the reintegration of Virgil van Dijk is a good thing, but will make it harder for him to nail down a starting spot.

The Dutchman is being eased back into action at St. Mary's following a summer of speculation linking him with a move away from the club, specifically to Liverpool.

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The former Celtic man has not started a game for eight months following an injury he picked up against Leicester in January - he was given 10 minutes against Crystal Palace and was an unused substitute against Manchester United.

The quality of Van Dijk is undeniable - it could be that he is knocking on the door to start before long - and with the club also signing Wesley Hoedt in the summer, Yoshida knows he has a battle on his hands to retain his place in the starting XI.

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He said, as quoted by Sky Sports: "It's really tough, I understand. Virgil is one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League. 

"I have to keep strong in my performance to the manager, the fans, get a result for the team. It's only the things I can do. I just focus on myself and playing well.

"[With] my experience in the last couple of years, I am pretty sure that kind of pressure makes me stronger. Even Jack Stephens was not involved in the squad. That's the kind of really high competition we have in Southampton."