Virgil van Dijk is set to make his long awaited comeback from injury in Thursday’s friendly with Hertha Berlin in Austria.
The Holland defender has been sidelined since October 17 when he was injured after a challenge from Jordan Pickford. Van Dijk needed surgery on his knee and will have been out for nine months by the time he makes an appearance in Innsbruck this week.
Van Dijk and Joe Gomez were spectators on Friday as Liverpool defeated Mainz 1-0. And afterwards Jurgen Klopp was far from optimistic when assessing whether the pair would feature this week.
“Yes, I would still be surprised, unfortunately,” Klopp replied to LFCTV when asked if the pair would be available. “They look really good, they do everything. They play football, we keep them in training, we do the things we can do. They don’t do too much.”
But the German coach has given an update the duo and both players have made “positive steps forward during their rehabilitation”.
Speaking from the team’s hotel, Klopp told the club’s website: “I hope, I am not sure, that there is the opportunity that Virgil could play a few minutes.
“He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring [him in], but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we will see.
“If you see the games now as part of their rehab training, that makes sense.
“Joey is very close. There is no race between the two of them; they had different injuries and stuff like this, but [he is] very close.
“If Virgil can play now 20 then probably Joey can in the game after. We will see. In training they both look really good.
“I think from time to time there are some pictures of them from training sessions and everyone can see how good it looks, but there is no rush for us. It is not about they now need five pre-season games to be ready for the start or whatever.
“It is a long season and we prepare them after these very, very serious injuries for the rest of their careers and not for the first game of the season.
Enrique critical of Klopp
“Losing a little bit of patience for them to return as a supporter or as a coach even is not bad, it just means they were pretty good and we want them to be back in the team.”
Former Liverpool defender Jose Enrique had earlier said he could not understand why Klopp has not used Van Dijk or Gomez in pre-season.
Taking to Instagram, though, Enrique – who played under Klopp in his final season as an Anfield player – has insisted that he cannot understand the manager’s thinking.
“I believe we are perfect but I want to see how Gomez and Van Dijk are as well because I don’t understand after such a long period out how they still don’t have any minutes so hopefully both of them are good,” the Spaniard wrote.