By Associated Press - Monday, October 2, 2017

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Netherlands coach Dick Advocaat has called up Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk to bolster his back line for two crucial World Cup qualifiers.

Van Dijk was overlooked last week when Advocaat named a 24-man squad for the final Group A matches, against Belarus and Sweden. However, Van Dijk got a belated call-up Monday after starting a match for Southampton for the first time this season in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Stoke City.

The Dutch are third in Group A, four points behind France and three points adrift of Sweden.

The Netherlands, a three-time World Cup runner-up, is struggling to avoid missing its second straight major tournament, after failing to qualify for last year’s European Championship in France.

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