By Alex Stevens

Virgil van Dijk is set to be sidelined for three months in a crushing blow to Southampton as they prepare for Wednesday night’s League Cup showdown against Liverpool, according to a report.

The Sun claim scans on the ankle injury Van Dijk sustained against Leicester at the weekend have revealed the extent of the damage.

It is said he will be out until mid to late April in a shattering blow to Southampton’s League Cup hopes as well as their ambitions of a top-eight Premier League finish.

The Holland centre-back, 25, had already been ruled out of Southampton’s trip to Anfield for the second leg of their League Cup semi-final by manager Claude Puel but the injury is worse than initially feared.

It means that Van Dijk will be absent at Wembley next month if the Saints are successful in protecting their 1-0 advantage from the first leg.

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The loss of the giant Dutch defender comes at the worst possible time, as his regular centre-back partner for the last two seasons, Jose Fonte, was sold to West Ham for £8million last Friday.

Van Dijk admitted he was “gutted” at the exit for the Portugese World Cup winner and his devastation has now been significantly increased.

Puel is likely to pair senior centre-back Maya Yoshida with rookie Jack Stephens at Anfield against what is likely to be a full-strength Liverpool team.

In other Liverpool team news, a midfielder has signed after agreeing the terms of a transfer with the Merseyside giants.

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