Klopp previews Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Man Utd
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Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has taken a leaf out of his manager’s book by pointing the finger at fixture congestion over his frustrating recent injury woes. And he believes his latest lay-off, due to a hamstring issue, was a blessing in disguise as he continues to regain his best form.
Van Dijk missed almost all of the 2020/21 season due to a knee injury sustained after a collision with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in October 2020.
But he was a crucial figure again last term, featuring in 51 games in all competitions as the quadruple narrowly evaded Liverpool.
The 31-year-old suffered his latest setback in the 3-1 defeat at Brentford on January 2, a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for over a month.
And he recently blamed the number of games he had to play without rest, including the winter World Cup in Qatar, for his latest injury blow.
He told The Times: “Coming back from the knee injury, I played all the Premier League games [last season], I think, because everybody wants to be out there – I want to be out there.
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“What caught up is that I played too many games at a time. When it’s game day, I want to play. I’ll do everything possible to play.
“But I could have also thought before the World Cup, ‘Let’s rest a little bit in order to be ready’. But I didn’t because I want to play and I want to be influential for this football club because I love this club.
“I work each and every day to be successful for this club. But it caught up with me. Unfortunately [for] my body, I’m not a robot.
“And I think going into the World Cup, having the World Cup, and then doing nothing for a week and coming back. It was maybe not the right decision.”
Jurgen Klopp has often been criticised for his tendency to lament the fixture schedule when Liverpool are competing on all fronts. Van Dijk has taken a similar path when speculating about the source of his injury.
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However, he considers his recent six-week break a blessing ahead of the season run-in as Liverpool fight to sneak into the Premier League top four.
“I would say that everything that happened, happened for a reason,” Van Dijk added.
“These six weeks were a good chance for me to reflect. But also, it let my knee settle a little bit and get ready for the rest of the season.
“It was a tough six weeks to watch because you want to help the team, and especially with a hamstring injury, you have to be very patient. Patience is not in my vocabulary, it’s not in my system, but I had to.”
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