Daily Echo:

Saints are hopeful that Virgil van Dijk will back down over his transfer demands and re-join Mauricio Pellegrino’s squad this week.

The 26-year-old Dutch defender spent last week training on his own at Staplewood while his teammates were on a pre-season trip to France.

Van Dijk, who has five years left on his contract, had told Pellegrino he wanted to leave St Mary’s this summer, and his apparent lack of focus led the new manager to take the dramatic decision to leave him behind.

With no movement from his suitors at Liverpool forthcoming, Saints are optimistic that van Dijk has come to the conclusion that he will have to accept the situation and prepare for another season at St Mary’s.

Pellegrino has been planning on life without him, either in the long or short term.

Jack Stephens and Maya Yoshida are likely to start the season as his centre half pairing.

Even if van Dijk does stay at Saints, he hasn’t played a game since picking up his season ending injury in January, and his self-inflicted lack of pre-season action has hardly helped the situation.

Pellegrino will speak to van Dijk upon his return to Staplewood this week in the hope of good news, and will then reintegrate him into first team training.

Saints have two home pre-season friendlies to come – against Augsburg on Wednesday night and Sevilla on Saturday – before the big kick-off against Swansea.

It is possible van Dijk could play some sort of role in those games if Pellegrino hears what he wants to hear.

While his teammates are likely to be forgiving, it will a harder to sell to get the fans back onside.

Van Dijk has always been a hero to the club’s supporters for his performances and his leadership.

However, his reputation has been hugely tarnished by this summer’s transfer saga, and the thought that there is the possibility he will still have half an eye on the exit door.

Quite how he and the club will go about trying to restore that faith remains to be seen, but first of all he needs to make it clear he is happy to stay and accept remaining at Saints for at least one more season.