After losing him for the majority of last term, Liverpool suffered a fright when Virgil van Dijk picked up a knock on international duty
Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has declared Virgil van Dijk fit to face Leeds United on Sunday after the defender’s injury scare on international duty.
Van Dijk scare explained
The Netherlands captain picked up a slight knock in the 6-1 demolition of Turkey on Tuesday, which would have concerned Liverpool given Van Dijk’s absence for most of last term.
However, the centre-back quickly calmed Klopp’s concerns before returning to Liverpool, who are on the second-longest unbeaten run in England’s top four tiers (13).
The Liverpool manager confirmed the £75million man’s fitness.
“With Virgil [van Dijk], that was obviously a scary moment, you can imagine,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.
“I sent him a message after the game, ‘Are you all right?’.”
Klopp was immediately sent a message or reassurance, and he then asked whether Van Dijk was “100 per cent”, and was told he was actually “200 per cent” healthy.
The Reds boss said he then sent a message that read: “Come on, send me a video of you without limping…”
“So he called me from the bus and said, ‘Boss, I’m fine!’,” Klopp said.
“I said, ‘Why are you limping then?’. He said, ‘My wife asked the same!’.
“So, yeah, that was a bit of a tricky moment but apart from that, no, all fine [for the international players].”
Klopp will have been briefly sweating on his star defender’s fitness, given Liverpool missed Van Dijk’s leadership and defensive attributes last term, with only one Premier League defender (Burnley’s James Tarkowski: 199) bettering his 191 aerial wins during the Reds’ title-winning campaign of 2019-20.
Despite the encouraging news on Van Dijk, Klopp will be without Roberto Firmino for the trip to Elland Road as the forward suffered a hamstring injury against Chelsea.
However, Harvey Elliott is back to full fitness after withdrawing from England’s Under-21 squad. Prior to the international break, Elliott became the third youngest Liverpool player ever to start against Chelsea, after John McLaughlin in 1970 and Raheem Sterling in 2012.
Klopp also confirmed Naby Keita’s safe return from Guinea, having managed to leave his home country after a military coup.
“Naby is fine,” said Klopp. “Yesterday he was not here [at Liverpool’s training ground] but he was in Liverpool again.”