Football

‘Virgil could play a few minutes’ – Klopp hints at Van Dijk return as Liverpool gear up for Hertha Berlin friendly

The Netherlands international could be in line to make his long-awaited return to action this week after a full recovery from knee surgery

Jurgen Klopp has hinted Virgil van Dijk is in line for a return as Liverpool gear up for their latest friendly clash, against Hertha Berlin.

Van Dijk hasn’t played for Liverpool since undergoing successful surgery on his cruciate ligament knee injury in October last year.

The 30-year-old missed the majority of the 2020-21 campaign as result and decided against lining up with the Netherlands at the European Championships in order to focus on his recovery, and Klopp has now revealed he is nearing a long-awaited comeback.

What’s been said?

The Reds head coach gave an update on Van Dijk ahead of his side’s meeting with Bundesliga outfit Hertha at Tivoli Stadion in Innsbruck on Thursday.

“I hope, I am not sure, that there is the opportunity that Virgil could play a few minutes,” Klopp has told the club’s official website. “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.”

Klopp was also asked about the condition of Joe Gomez, who has been out of action for the past nine months due to his own serious knee injury.

The German tactician doesn’t expect the England international to play against Hertha, but is leaving the door open for him to feature against Athletic Club on August 8 – a friendly fixture that comes six days before Liverpool begin their latest Premier League campaign away at Norwich City.

“If you see the games now as part of their rehab training, that makes sense,” Klopp added. “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. 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.”

The Goal view

Goal’s Liverpool correspondent Neil Jones: “Jurgen Klopp hinted last week that he’d be “surprised” if Virgil van Dijk was to play on Thursday, but it seems the prognosis is a little more optimistic now.

“Good news for LiverpooI, who have been pleased with the way Ibrahima Konate has settled in after his move from Leipzig, and how Joel Matip has looked since his return from an ankle injury.

“To add Van Dijk to that would make the Reds a whole lot stronger heading into the new campaign. The Dutchman remains the club’s premier centre back, after all. If he can be eased back into action gently in the next fortnight, it shouldn’t be long before we see him back in Premier League action.”

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