Jurgen Klopp has commended Virgil van Dijk‘s comeback from his serious knee injury, with the bumpy road navigated “exceptionally well” by the centre-back.
There were 301 days between Van Dijk’s competitive outings before and after his ACL injury, a significant time on the sidelines before needing to then settle back into the demands of senior football.
Liverpool carefully managed his minutes as a “short term” plan to aid in his return at the start of the season but, in total, the No. 4 now has 25 appearances to his name.
As is the case with injuries such as Van Dijk’s, everything is not as it once was and navigating the challenges that creates has been praised by Klopp five months in the campaign.
“Not surprised [of consistency of availability],” Klopp told reporters. “It was not that it was this just this [upward] curve and always going up, there were obviously bumps in there but that’s normal.
“Virg had to learn to deal with a lot of things, like some physical things are just not available like they were before.
“It all will come and came back, but it’s not from the first day like this so you have to adapt to these things.
“There are worries, I had bad injuries myself, you can’t ignore that when you are an intelligent person which Virg obviously is.
“You can’t ignore everything and just say ‘uh, who cares.’ The way back to the best is a bumpy one and he did exceptionally well.”
The added factor of testing positive back in December created another hurdle to clear for Van Dijk, with Klopp pointing out that there are still unknowns as to the lingering effects of Covid even in asymptomatic cases.
“I think the biggest thing/difference was after Covid. That’s why I mention it, we still don’t understand it 100 percent,” Klopp added.
“I know the boys always want it but I see when they can’t, and it was the case in one or two games.
“It looks now that we’re over that as well, really pleased with all the development – especially the long-term injuries we’ve dealt with really well.
“Dr Andreas Schlumberger is a massive help there, the structure he implemented is incredibly helpful.”