Klopp makes big claim over Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez starting vs. Norwich

Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez made their return from injury during Liverpool’s pre-season preparations, and after three appearances each could be ready for Norwich.

The Reds begin their Premier League campaign at Carrow Road on Saturday, on the back of a productive warmup schedule that saw them play eight friendlies, winning four and drawing three.

It was a summer of overriding positives, with the standout being comebacks for Van Dijk and Gomez after long-term injuries, gradually building up their minutes over a series of games.

Van Dijk played 136 minutes over clashes with Hertha Berlin, Bologna and Athletic Club, while Gomez clocked 123 against Hertha, Bologna and Osasuna.

While Klopp and Liverpool’s medical staff are wary of “rushing” their recovery, the manager has told the club’s official website that he believes both Van Dijk and Gomez are in contention to start against Norwich.

“I think so, it looks like [they are available to start],” Klopp said.

“But how it is with these kind of things, we have nothing to rush in this department.

“We just have to make then a decision on who will start, who will come on, things like this and if I think they are ready for 90 minutes then they are ready to start.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 8, 2021: Liverpool's Joel Matip during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and Athletic Club de Bilbao at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Given Joel Matip came through pre-season in excellent form after his own long-term layoff – with only five players tallying more minutes – and new signing Ibrahima Konate has made strong progress, Klopp has a variety of options.

This could inform his decision as he puts his side together for the weekend, with it likely that only one of Van Dijk or Gomez would start if any at all.

The trajectory of the final weeks of pre-season suggested that Van Dijk – who started among the ‘first choice’ side against Bologna and Athletic Club – is being primed for an immediate return to the starting lineup.

But Klopp continued to stress caution, as it would “make no sense” to field a centre-back knowing that he would be required to come off after a certain period.

“An intense season is coming up,” he added. “We will see how we decide that.”

As it stands, Van Dijk can be expected to partner Matip at the back on Saturday, with Klopp’s other big decision coming in midfield, with one of James Milner or Harvey Elliott due to join Fabinho and Naby Keita.