Jurgen Klopp has revealed that Virgil van Dijk could make his long-awaited return from injury against Hertha Berlin on Thursday in Austria.
The Dutch defender has been on the sidelines since last October, after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage to his knee during a 2-2 draw with Everton.
Van Dijk, 30, joined the Reds for £75million in a then-world-record transfer fee for a defender back in January 2018.
The defender has been an integral part of Klopp’s side since joining from Southampton, and has been sorely missed in his absence.
Speaking to Liverpoolfc.com, Klopp provided a positive update on the defender, as well his team-mate Joe Gomez who also spent most of last season on the sidelines.
“I hope, I am not sure, that there is the opportunity that Virgil could play a few minutes,” said Klopp.
“He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring [him in], but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we will see.
“If you see the games now as part of their rehab training, that makes sense,” he added.
Meanwhile, Gomez is also set to return in the not-too-distant future, after making good progress at the Reds’ Austria training camp.
The 24-year-old also suffered a serious knee injury while away on international duty with England last November.
“Joey is very close,” said Klopp. “There is no race between the two of them; they had different injuries and stuff like this, but [he is] very close.
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“If Virgil can play now 20 then probably Joey can in the game after. We will see. In training they both look really good.
“I think from time to time there are some pictures of them from training sessions and everyone can see how good it looks, but there is no rush for us. It is not about they now need five pre-season games to be ready for the start or whatever.
“It is a long season and we prepare them after these very, very serious injuries for the rest of their careers and not for the first game of the season.
“Losing a little bit of patience for them to return as a supporter or as a coach even is not bad, it just means they were pretty good and we want them to be back in the team.”
Liverpool have faced a number of defensive problems without the pair and were forced to rely on inexperienced duo Nathaniel Phillips and Ozan Kabak – who was brought in on loan from Schalke for much of the season.
The Reds have since bolstered their defence by signing Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig in a move worth £34million.
The 22-year-old Frenchman will provide welcome competition for both Van Dijk and Gomez when they return to the first-team set-up.
Liverpool remain in Austria after beat Mainz 1-0 in a preseason friendly on Friday.
Following their match against Hertha, they will face Athletic Club and Osasuna in friendly matches.
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