Liverpool have been given a massive boost, as reports have revealed that defender Virgil Van Dijk has begun light recovery training and could be in line for a return earlier than expected.
The towering center-back suffered a severe knee injury in the Mersyside derby clash with Everton after coming together with Jordan Pickford in October and immediate pictures pointed to it being a serious injury, while scans carried out later showed that he would be sidelined for a long time.
This saw Liverpool omit Van Dijk from their Premier League squad and there were genuine fears that he could be ruled out for the rest of the season.
The club subsequently mulled the possibility of signing alternative options in defense, with names like Kalidou Koulibaly, David Alaba, and Ben Godfrey linked with the Premier League champions.
Beyond Van Dijk, Liverpool have suffered several other injuries to key first-team players like Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Joe Gomez, and Fabinho, while talisman Mo Salah has tested positive for COVID-19.
These injury problems could potentially have a negative impact on the Reds’ title charge but they have been handed a massive boost.
It is still unknown how long the Netherlands international will be in recovery but former Liverpool striker and Ballon d’Or winner Michael Owen believes that the 29-year-old could be available during the key home-run period of the season.
Speaking of Liverpool’s chances of being in contention in the knockout stages of the Champions League, Owen said:
”It’s when you get really tested because in some games, if you’re in a good team that are better than the rest, you can carry one or two players that aren’t quite at it.
“But it’s when you get into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it’s when you play Manchester City at Anfield, things like that, then you can’t have any passengers in your team.
“Of course, Liverpool, the whole squad is very good. But you’ve just got one or two players in any team, I don’t care who you are, that you look to and carry you to certain situations.
“When you’re in the tunnel before the game you look in front of you and behind you and think, ‘right, we’ve got a chance because we’ve got him in our team’. Van Dijk in particular is one of them.
”He’s a huge miss, but hey, who’s to say he won’t be back for those big games at the end of the season?
“A cruciate ligament injury is sort of five to six months if everything goes perfectly. So you never know. It’s a huge blow.”
After the two-week international break, Liverpool will be back in Premier League action when they host table-toppers Leicester City in a marquee top-of-the-table clash and Jurgen Klopp has been boosted by the return to fitness of key players including Fabinho and Andrew Robertson.
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