Mauricio Pellegrino says that Virgil van Dijk is improving his fitness week on week, after an eight month injury lay-off.
The Dutch international has been gaining competitive minutes with Saints' U23s side as he steps up his return, while playing a cameo role in the club's victory over Crystal Palace a fortnight ago.
Commenting on the likeliness of the centre-half featuring against Stoke on Saturday, Pellegrino said: "Little by little, every single week, he's getting better.
"Physically he looks fresher and with better timing, but the first game back it will be difficult to see the best version of Virgil.
"Because normally after eight months you need some games, but I am happy with his attitude, every single week he's getting better."