MAURICIO Pellegrino has his concerns over the upcoming international break – as he prepares to begin an anxious wait over the state of his squad.

The St Mary’s chief has had no significant injury worries during his short tenure at Saints so far and has no injuries ahead of tomorrow's Premier League match at Stoke - and hopes this will continue.

However, the Argentine admits he is worried as he prepares to wave goodbye to his international players after the Potters game.

Pellegrino is proud of his Saints men who have been called up for duty, including Fraser Forster, who was recalled to the England squad yesterday alongside Ryan Bertrand after being left out last month.

He said: “I am happy for them. If Ryan again is in the England national and Fraser comeback, it’s good.

“It’s one of the strongest national team in the world, in my opinion and congratulations to them.

“I have two separate feelings, though. It’s really good for them but I’m a little bit worried when you have 11 or 12 players going away abroad to play games.

“It’s a lot of players, it’s 50 per cent of the squad, but we have to accept the rules and hope they all come back healthy for the next game.”

Pellegrino, who has already prepared a behind-closed-doors friendly for the international break for those not heading to play for their countries, believes it’s a positive thing for the club that they have so many players jetting off for World Cup qualifiers.

He said: “It’s a good sign. But we know in our squad we have players who are under 23, like Prowsey (James Ward-Prowse), Nathan (Redmond), Matt (Targett), Sam McQueen, and young players in national team.

“We’ve got Gabbiadini, Shane (Long), Mario (Lemina), all of them are internationals and it’s good for us because it shows we have important players in the squad.

“But we have to survive with this more or less seven or eight days without them in the international break.”

He does hope that those internationals return with a clean bill of health, though.

“It’s not frustration, but I have to accept the rules,” he said. “I have to adapt with the players that we’ve got.

“It’s really good for them because they are competing with the national team and that’s really good for the club.

“Hopefully they play well and come back healthy and be better prepared for Southampton.”

Meanwhile, Pellegrino will ponder whether or not to hand Virgil van Dijk the captaincy when he returns to action.

Van Dijk, who will likely be on the bench again at Stoke, pushed for a move away in the summer but has been re-integrated back in to the squad after the club decided not to sell.

"Virgil is still one of our captains," said Pellegrino. "I'm not thinking about this.

"But being captain for me, it's not a position, it's a decision: if you want to be captain, you have to deserve it."

Asked if Van Dijk deserves to captain Saints again, Pellegrino replied: "I will think about it.”

"Little by little he's getting better. It's difficult to see the best version of Virgil in his first or second game back, but we have to be patient.

"We've got another two weeks after this game due to the international break, and we'll play a friendly game in the middle.

"We're happy with his attitude, he's helping his team-mates."