2K0PA8H Gelsenkirchen, Germany. 10th Sep, 2022. Soccer: Bundesliga, FC Schalke 04 - VfL Bochum, Matchday 6, Veltins Arena: Schalke's Sepp van den Berg gives instructions. Credit: David Inderlied/dpa - IMPORTANT NOTE: In accordance with the requirements of the DFL Deutsche FuBball Liga and the DFB Deutscher FuBball-Bund, it is prohibited to use or have used photographs taken in the stadium and/or of the match in the form of sequence pictures and/or video-like photo series./dpa/Alamy Live News

Liverpool defender faces indefinite layoff at loan club – “I can’t predict how long”

Having initially rejoined training during the winter break after a serious ankle injury, Sepp van den Berg now faces an indefinite spell out at Schalke.

Van den Berg tore the ligament in his left ankle during a 3-2 defeat to Augsburg in October, undergoing surgery which ruled him out until after the World Cup.

The Dutchman subsequently returned to light training at Schalke’s mid-season training camp in Turkey, though he was not involved in their warmup friendlies.

He was expected to be back fit ahead of the Bundesliga restart, but has now missed losses to Eintracht Frankfurt and RB Leizpig and a 0-0 draw with FC Koln.

Speaking ahead of that stalemate in Gelsenkirchen, Schalke manager Thomas Reis gave an update on the Liverpool loanee, revealing an extended layoff.

“With Sepp, it’s the case that he won’t be available to us for a while,” he told reporters, as quoted by LigaInsider.

“I can’t predict how long that will be.

“He still has the same problem with the operated foot. It’s hard to predict when he’ll be able to complete the training without pain.”

2K1EH43 DORTMUND, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 17: Sepp van den Berg of Schalke 04 during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 at Signal Iduna Park on September 17, 2022 in Dortmund, Germany (Photo by Marcel ter Bals/Orange Pictures)

It is a frustrating situation for Van den Berg, who seemed in with a chance of breaking into the first-team squad at Liverpool with a productive loan at Schalke.

He started his first four games with the club, but has now missed four months and counting, losing his place in the side and seeing a change of manager at the VELTINS-Arena.

Reis took over from Frank Kramer in October, and Schalke have now brought in another centre-back in Lorient loanee Moritz Jenz, who started alongside Maya Yoshida in the draw with Koln.

Sunday’s clean sheet was only the fourth of the season for Schalke, and if Jenz and Yoshida find form as a partnership, Van den Berg could face a fight for his place upon return.

For now, the focus will be on making a full recovery, with the 21-year-old needing to make up for lost time when back fit.