REUTERS - Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk could play again before the season ends as he recovers from a long-term ankle injury, manager Claude Puel has said.
Van Dijk, who has made 34 appearances for Southampton this season, has not played since he sustained the injury in Southampton's victory over Leicester City in January.
The 25-year-old, who was expected to return within two to three months, has been strongly linked with moves to Manchester City and Chelsea by British media.
"It's a long injury. We will see if Van Dijk can come back before the end of the season," Puel told reporters on Thursday.
Striker Manolo Gabbiadini, who has scored six goals for the club since joining in January, will miss Saturday's Premier League clash with Bournemouth as he recovers from a groin injury suffered during a 2-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur earlier in March.
"I think that Gabbiadini cannot play this game. He is not available, but we will see for the next one. For the other players, I hope and think it's ok," Puel said.
Puel said that he held talks with Dusan Tadic after media reports suggested that the midfielder was unhappy about being substituted in his last five games.
"Any player can have disappointment after a game, I can understand this. But we sorted it out internally, it was calm. He knows that it was not a good response," Puel added.
"It is always better to give the good answer on the pitch rather than outside. He knows this."
Southampton, who are 10th in the table, host 11th-placed Bournemouth, with both teams level on 33 points albeit the hosts have two games in hand.
(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru)