Virgil van Dijk has revealed there is “light at the end of the tunnel” when it comes to Joe Gomez and Joel Matip‘s injuries, with the pair on course for a return for pre-season.
The absence of Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip for the majority of the season has been a crippling blow for the Reds.
Tuesday night brought the confirmation that Man City have won the Premier League title, with Liverpool sitting 23 points and five places below the new champions.
It may have been much different had Jurgen Klopp been able to call upon any of his three first-choice centre-backs for an extended period, but instead the focus has been on getting them fit for next season.
Van Dijk has confirmed that all three are in line to be available for Liverpool’s warmup schedule, in his first interview with the club’s official website since his ACL injury.
“They definitely help, we help each other in a way,” he said of the presence of Gomez, Matip and other injured players working alongside him during his rehabilitation.
“Whether it’s to bring an energy to each other because obviously we are in the gym a lot and we see the same things almost every day, so we try to keep each other motivated, keep each other going.
“All of us are in our last phase of our rehab, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“We’re all outside running and we see each other getting better, so that all helps.
“Hopefully from pre-season we can all be fit and work towards a very good season.”
Van Dijk’s interview is very positive, with the Dutchman speaking well on his desire to return to full strength for Liverpool, forgoing the opportunity to captain the Netherlands at this summer’s Euros.
Having all three of him, Gomez and Matip back for 2021/22 will be a big boost, with a trio of top-class centre-back options potentially the difference between a top-four push and another title challenge.
If they are all able to make a full recovery, it could give Klopp a big decision to make when it comes to the rest of his defensive ranks.
This season, he has called upon Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams and loan signing Ozan Kabak at centre-back, while RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate is expected to make the move to Merseyside this summer.
Klopp could be left to decide between signing Kabak on a permanent deal or keeping Phillips as a long-term option, with it unlikely he will require more than six players for the position despite the shock of this season’s injuries.