Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has pleaded with Netherlands counterpart Frank de Boer to leave Virgil van Dijk out of his squad for the European Championship this summer to give him enough time to recover from his knee injury.
Van Dijk has been out of action since October, when a collision with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford saw him rupture his ACL, but the Dutchman has been working tirelessly to recover as soon as possible and recently posted a video of himself running unaided as part of his recovery.
All the signs suggest Van Dijk is on track to recover well, but Klopp insisted the centre back will likely need the entire summer to get himself back to full strength and he would be risking his career by trying to return to soon.
“I don’t want to hold Virgil back but you can’t force it as well,” Klopp said (via the Daily Mail). “You are all long enough in the business to know that if you want to play you have to train before – and proper football training.
“It takes weeks. Not a week before. You cannot be out for ten or 11 months, train for one week and then play football. That is not possible, it should not be possible.
“No one is holding Virgil back – I can promise all the people in Holland that we cannot force it, and we will not. We speak about a player and his career, so nobody should force it and nobody will. Not Holland, not us and not Virgil as well. It’s just about getting as fit as possible.
“Nobody knows at the moment when that will be exactly, but you can imagine for sure it will be very, very tight with the Euros because he is not in team training yet and will not be in the next few weeks.
“So I don’t know. But in the end it’s a decision of Virgil and he will get massively influenced by the feeling in his knee.”
De Boer has previously confessed that Van Dijk will likely have the final say when it comes to his inclusion, insisting that the Liverpool defender is under ‘no pressure’ to play at this summer’s tournament.
The Dutch boss wants his squad submitted by June 1, and if Van Dijk has barely even returned to training by that point, it’s hard to see him getting on the plane this summer.
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