FORMER Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk will miss the English League Cup Final at the end of the month after being ruled out today for around three months with an ankle injury.

The big Dutchman, who is a summer transfer target for the Premier League’s top four clubs, suffered the injury a few weeks ago against Champions Leicester City. And the bad news for Southampton fans is that van Dijk will miss the Cup Final against Manchester United on February 26.

“He will not be available for many weeks, two or three months,” Southampton manager  Claude Puel revealed earlier today. “It’s an important problem and difficult for us. He is important for the group and the fans with his quality and leadership.

“It’s a blow but we will find a solution. For the semi-final second leg against Liverpool we got a fantastic result without him and we will continue with other possibilities. Ryan Bertrand can play in this position, and we will see with young players like Jack Stephens. We have possibilities.”

Chelsea are the latest club to express an interest in the player and are reported to be preparing a massive £60million bid to secure the services of the player who is widely regarded as the best defender in English football.

Celtic’s 15% sell on clause, after deducting the initial fee paid by Southampton could provide Brendan Rodgers with a windfall of around £6million in the summer.

For Southampton, van Dijk’s absence from the cup final is a massive blow, especially as the club failed to add defensive cover during the transfer window.

“We studied a lot of solutions and possibilities but we could not find a good opportunity in January,” Puel revealed. “We worked hard but without success so we continue with this squad to find a solution.”


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