Southampton’s star center back Virgil Van Dijk was back in action for the first time in over eight months.
It wasn’t pretty, but he’s back.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Van Dijk, 26, has been out since Jan. 22 when he suffered a season-ending foot injury in a win against Leicester City.
Since then van Dijk has been chased by Liverpool, Chelsea and others with the Saints captain putting in a transfer request to leave Southampton but the club held firm and held on to him in the summer transfer window.
With the transfer window now closed, VVD was back in training with the first team last week after previously being banished to train on his own or with the reserves.
On Monday he played in Southampton U-23’s 4-0 defeat against Aston Villa. Saints conceded two goals in each half and van Dijk was caught out on Villa’s first, second and fourth goals.
Below you can see videos of all four goals, with van Dijk particularly laid back on Villa’s first goal after he stepped up but was beaten in a challenge and then failed to recover as he strolled back into position.
It was previously thought van Dijk may return to Saints’ team this weekend against Crystal Palace (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) but judging by this performance he seems a little rusty.
That’s to be expected after a long, and unsettling, period out of the team but VVD is widely-regarded as the best center back in the Premier League. Hmmm.