Virgil Van Dijk is set to play his first Saints game in eight months – at Walsall FC’s Bescot Stadium.

The Dutch defender will play against Aston Villa U23s in their Premier League 2 fixture against Martin Hunter's side on Monday night. 

It will be his first appearance for any Saints side since January 22, when he suffered an ankle injury in a clash with Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy.

After the 2-0 defeat to Watford, Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino revealed: “He’s gone a long period of time without playing a game and this is my concern right now.

“He will play Monday in the reserve (U23) team. We have to be ready to help him.

Van Dijk, 26, has returned to training since being denied a move from St Mary's during the transfer window.

But Monday's game gives him the opportunity to regain some much-needed match sharpness.

Pellegrino added: “He was training well this week and we hope everything is normal.”