Liverpool have received a big injury boost ahead of their Premier League encounter with Leeds United over the weekend after Virgil van Dijk played down concerns over an ankle issue.
The 30-year-old centre-back suffered a late fitness scare during the Netherlands’ 6-1 World Cup Qualifier win over Turkey in midweek after he was spotted clutching his ankle following a high challenge from Halil Dervisoglu.
Van Dijk appeared to be in considerable pain but told local media that he was “already over it” following the final whistle at the Amsterdam ArenA.
New Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal was quick to point the blame at the slow play of his goalkeeper, Justin Bijlow, and defender, Devyne Rensch, for his captain’s injury.
“The last (goal) could not happen, in my opinion, but it was a soft ball of our right full-back,” said the former Ajax, Manchester United and Bayern Munich boss (as relayed by The Independent).
“And by law the goalkeeper, who played three fantastic matches, makes a mistake, also a slow ball. That’s why Virgil van Dijk is a little bit injured now.”
The Liverpool talisman made no reference to the tackle on Twitter, though, saying: “Proud captain today, great performance all round. What a great atmosphere too! Now time to head back to Liverpool and prepare for a tough couple of weeks ahead.”
With Liverpool set to take on Leeds United at Elland Road over the weekend following the return of Premier League football, Reds manager Jurgen Klopp will be delighted to have his star defender available for selection as he’d have been panicked to see the challenge he was on the receiving end of.
Van Dijk missed the majority of last season through a serious knee injury and the 19-time English champions fell to third place in the top-flight table in his absence.
His return to Merseyside in good health will be a huge relief for everyone associated with the club, and Klopp can plan ahead for the tricky trip to south Yorkshire with his first-choice centre-back in mind.