(Reuters) - Southampton defender Maya Yoshida knows Virgil van Dijk’s return to the squad will make it even more difficult to hold down a place in the starting line-up but says the increased competition can only be good for the Premier League club.
Van Dijk, who has not started for the Saints since suffering an ankle injury in January, was the subject of transfer interest from Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea in the summer but Southampton managed to hold onto the Dutchman and now have him available for selection again.
Yoshida made his fifth Premier League start of the season in Southampton’s 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United on Saturday and says if he wants to continue having regular first team football he could not afford to make mistakes.
“It’s really tough, I understand. Virgil is one of the best centre backs in the Premier League,” Yoshida told reporters.
“I have to keep strong in my performance to the manager, the fans, get a result for the team. It’s only the things I can do. I just focus on myself and playing well.
“Even (Jack) Stephens was not involved in the squad. That’s the kind of really high competition we have in Southampton.”
While Southampton are one of the tightest teams at the back, conceding five goals in six matches this season, they continue to struggle up front and Saturday’s defeat marked the eighth time in nine home league games they have failed to score.
Their next league game is at Stoke City on Saturday.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford