Mauricio Pellegrino hopes for Virgil van Dijk U-turn over decision to leave

Mauricio Pellegrino says Southampton will keep trying to persuade Virgil van Dijk to stay at the club, amid reported interest from Liverpool and Chelsea.

Pellegrino has stressed the club still expect wantaway defender Van Dijk to feature this term, although he will miss Saturday's Premier League opener against Swansea due to a virus.

The defender has submitted a transfer request, but Southampton will not give up on the 26-year-old Netherlands international.

"My reaction is the same that I said three weeks ago: we are expecting him [Van Dijk] to come back, to train with us because we need the players, we need all of them," he said.

"Hopefully he can change his point of view. Virgil is an important player and we need him focused on our club."

Asked if Southampton can genuinely retain an unhappy player, Pellegrino said: "But the club was clear from the beginning with the player. We can't control every single situation. We can decide our dynamic in this group and Virgil is part of our group; he has a contract.

"He has spoken with [executive director] Les Reed. We've spoken with the player but not too much, a couple of meetings.

"I was clear, the club was clear, he was clear on his position. But we have to keep going because I can't control the thinking or the feeling of the player."

When asked whether Van Dijk would be available for selection this weekend, Pellegrino added: "No, no. Because this week he was with some trouble with a virus and he couldn't train the last two days."

Pellegrino confirmed Southampton will continue to chase more new recruits during the transfer window.

Club record signing Mario Lemina could make his competitive debut against Swansea at St Mary's on Saturday, with fellow new arrival Jan Bednarek also in the mix to feature.

Confirming his desire to make further signings, Pellegrino said: "Yes, there are certain positions where we would like to add strength. But we never know because the market is difficult. It's not easy for us.

"For me with Mario [Lemina] it's a mix. He's a defensive midfielder or a box-to-box midfielder and he has quality, strength in the middle. We didn't have this profile of player I think.

"Physically Mario's good, he's been training at Juventus.

"Jan [Bednarek] is a young player that I think has the capability to adapt to the Premier League. And Mario is a player that is coming from one of the biggest clubs in the world.

"We are happy with that. Both of them can help us to be stronger."