VIRGIL van Dijk has been called up to the Netherlands national team - despite playing just one full game for Saints in more than eight months.

The 26-year-old centre-back made his first start since January 22 on Saturday, playing the full game and giving away a penalty in the 2-1 defeat at Stoke.

But that is enough to give Van Dijk a call-up to the Netherlands squad who are heading in to vital World Cup qualifiers against Belarus and Sweden.

Dick Advocaat's side are currently third in Group A, three points behind the Swedish in second going in to the final two qualifying matches.

They are four points behind leaders France and face not being at next summer's finals in Russia if they fail to finish in the top two.

After his well-documented transfer saga in the summer, Van Dijk did not return to playing for Saints until the 1-0 win at Crystal Palace last month - coming on as a late substitute.

He had handed in a transfer request and was pushing for a move away, but Saints stood firm and banished Van Dijk to train alone while his future was resolved.

But at the end of the window, he returned to the fold and played twice for the clubs under-23s as he built up his match sharpness, having not played since January following a foot ligament injury.

Van Dijk was then handed his return at Palace before starting his first game since January 22 against Stoke on Saturday.