Liverpool journalist Simon Hughes doesn’t think that defender Virgil van Dijk will return to the team straight away once the Premier League season gets underway.
The Dutchman missed the vast majority of last season when he suffered a devastating injury in the Merseyside derby, and to say that Liverpool missed him would be something of an understatement for the man who has been so crucial to Liverpool’s success in recent years.
He made his return from injury in their recent pre-season game against Hertha Berlin as he aims to get back up to speed for the upcoming Premier League campaign, but speaking on the latest edition of The Red Agenda podcast, Hughes thinks that even when factoring in the last few games that the club have before competitive action, it might be a little too early for him to be playing regularly once more:
“It’s going to be fascinating to watch how quickly he gets up to speed because I think it’ll take a while. I’ll be very surprised, really. I think obviously Liverpool have got, I think, a friendly this week and then two friendlies over the weekend.
“I think to throw him in straight away in an away game particularly, it’s going to be a tough game, I think, Norwich away for the opening day, I’d be surprised if he went straight back in. It seems to me that in the friendlies, [Joel] Matip and [Ibrahima] Konate have been starting most of the games.”
TIF Thoughts on Simon Hughes’ comments on Virgil van Dijk…
Is Virgil van Dijk Liverpool's most important player?
It certainly is a difficult position that Liverpool find themselves in when it comes to Van Dijk.
Whilst the club will probably want to have an important player back as soon as they can in order to get themselves off to the best possible start as they look to regain the title, they also can’t take any risks when it comes to rushing him back and getting him injured again, because they know just how big a hole it is to fill when he’s away.
If Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konaté are as good as the club seem to think they can be, then it would make sense for them to take up the role in the early part of the season, and hopefully they can help get the club off to a decent start. That way, Liverpool aren’t forced to rush van Dijk back and run the risk of re-injury.