WESLEY Hoedt is sure that he and fellow Netherlands international Virgil van Dijk can forge a formidable centre-back partnership together at Saints.

The 23-year-old, who arrived from Lazio for £15m last month, made his debut in the 2-0 defeat to Watford on Saturday and is hopeful of playing next to compatriot Van Dijk.

But he’s also aware that Saints have top competition at centre-back, with Maya Yoshida, Jack Stephens and Jan Bednarek frontline options.

“We’re both Dutch so that’s an advantage and we’re very similar so we could have a very good partnership,” he said about Van Dijk.

“Not only us but we have three other central defenders who are really good so that’s nice. It’s always good to have competition.”

Wantaway Van Dijk has returned to the first team fold and played for the clubs under-23s on Monday, following his transfer saga in the summer months, which saw him banished to train alone after asking to leave.

The 26-year-old was told he was not for sale and was kept at the club despite his efforts to exit amid interest from Liverpool and Chelsea.

One of the reasons why Hoedt was tempted by a switch to St Mary’s was the club’s ambitions to keep this current Saints squad together on the south coast, rather than cash in - which has been the normal policy over the last few years.

“I think they’ve shown it [their ambition] by keeping the team together,” he said.

“That was their ambition and that’s something that I really liked and they wanted me really fast so that was really why I wanted to come here.”

While with Lazio, Hoedt had to manage the high expectations of the club’s passionate support.

“They’re really passionate there and they want the team to win every game,” he said.

“In Rome, if you ask around in Italy, they’re like 'in Rome – especially with both clubs Lazio and Roma – the supporters very demanding'.

“That was really good for my career because you have to be on your toes every minute when you’re playing.”

The former AZ Alkmaar defender believes those experiences in the Italian capital will aid his progress at St Mary’s.

“For sure, I hope that I can adjust to the team. Even in training we have to do good,” he said.

“You have to win everything in every moment, every second you’re on the pitch you have to have the mentality to win.

“Then you will show it on the game day as well.”

This move to the Premier League was something Hoedt had been planning for some time.

“I planned it this way because two years ago I went away on a free transfer [to Lazio],” he said.

“I had a lot of clubs to choose from when I went away from Alkmaar, but I particularly chose Lazio and played almost 70 games in two seasons.

“In the beginning it was difficult but then I did really good and the next step for me was to play in the Premier League.

“That’s what I wanted to do and I think that Southampton is the best club to start at in the Premier League.”