Belfast Telegraph

Virgil van Dijk focused on Leicester clash

Defender Virgil van Dijk says Southampton will offer champions Leicester every respect on Sunday, but can be confident of stepping up to the challenge as they chase a third straight Premier League win.

Southampton battled to a goalless draw away at Hapoel Be'er Sheva on Thursday evening, which extended thei r unbeaten run to five games in all competitions.

Juggling the demands of a gruelling Europa League and domestic schedule will test the resolve of Claude Puel's squad following what will be a fourth match in the space of 12 days.

Dutchman van Dijk, though, believes the way the group coped without the likes of captain Jose Fonte, top scorer Charlie Austin, Ryan Bertrand and Steven Davis for the trip to Israel shows there is a collective strength in depth to move forwards.

"It is going to be a great game, we are looking forward to it and it's another challenge for everyone, and everyone is focused and ready," said van Dijk, quoted on the club's official website,

"We can beat anyone in the league, but it still needs hard work and us sticking together."

The centre-back added: "We have to respect the champions, and they won in the Champions League this week, so they are full of confidence as well.

"Hopefully we can keep this run going, then Sunday is going to be a massive game again - a great opponent, and I am going to be ready for it.

"We have a good run going at the moment and hopefully we can continue that for the weekend as well."

Puel accepts recovery will be key, with the squad having flown back to England on Thursday afternoon.

"It is difficult. You just finish the game and now our mind is for the next game and it arrives very quickly," said the Saints boss, who took over in the summer following Ronald Koeman's departure.

"It is very hard to do a good recovery after this game, after a long journey.

"I don't know what will be our condition, but for the mind, for the confidence this result was important, we have a good spirit and a lot of solidarity between the players.

"Now we go to Leicester for a good result.

"Leicester will be two days more of recovery on the week (than us) and this is too big, but we go to make something."

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