Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk handed Netherlands call-up

Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk has been called up to the Netherlands squad for their crucial World Cup Qualifiers this week.

The defender was overlooked when head-coach Dick Advocaat named a 24-man squad for the final Group A matches, against Belarus and Sweden, on Friday.

However, Van Dijk got a last-minute call-up on Monday after starting for Southampton for the first time this season in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Stoke City, playing the full 90 minutes.

The Netherlands are third in Group A, four points behind France and three points adrift of Sweden, and fighting for a place in Russia next summer.

The three-time World Cup runners-up must win both of their final two group games and overtake Sweden on goal difference in order to qualify.

Failure to reach next year’s World Cup will mark back-to-back major tournaments in which the Netherlands have failed to reach following their absence at Euro 2016 last year.