MAURICIO Pellegrino has confirmed that Virgil van Dijk has been re-integrated back in to the Saints first-team.

But the Dutchman, who agitated for a move away during the summer and had been training alone, will not be available for selection for this weekend's game against Watford.

"Yes, he’s now training with the team again," the boss said.

Pellegrino says it will depend on Van Dijk as to when he returns to match action for Saints.

"It depends on the player, you know. We know that he’s coming from a long period of time without playing a game and he needs to train and to play games," he said.

"I will decide this in the future. The best thing in football you have to show on the pitch how you are but now everything is normal. This is good news for us."

The St Mary's chief admits keeping the 26-year-old defender, who attracted interest from Liverpool and Chelsea in the transfer window, is a big statement and will help Saints achieve their ambitions.

Van Dijk had been training alone since July after asking to leave and later handing in a transfer request.

Saints were always adamant he wasn't for sale and as such Van Dijk was not sold.

“It’s a message in this moment that we don’t need to sell players,” he said. “We need to  keep our best players to be more competitive.

“It’s a message from the owners, from the board, the chairman and the director and it’s really good because we are now in a difficult moment to make a smaller step.

“To achieve this step we had to keep our best players, to work with them and now to build a team. This is the most difficult thing.”

Pellegrino says he met with Van Dijk and stated that "everything is normal".

He said: “I always talk with my players but also with Virgil but it’s something private and I will repeat now that everything is normal. He’s training with the team.”