Liverpool defender and Virgil van Dijk’s default central defensive partner Dejan Lovren recently raised some eyebrows when he gave an interview in which he complained of a stomach muscle issue that had apparently been aggravated by his exertions during Croatia’s World Cup run. It was a surprise to many supporters that Lovren was even ailing, so his remarks sparked speculation about when the injury occurred, what the defender told his club about it, and the extent to which Liverpool had been caught unawares.
Manager Jürgen Klopp resolved part of the mystery following the Reds’ 4-0 victory over West Ham United. Speaking to the press, Klopp gave the impression that Lovren’s condition was at least not a complete surprise to the club.
“He is not fit,” stated the manager simply. “Let me say it like this, last year he already had a few problems with that but he could obviously play - and played really good.”
“Recovery days were always enough then it was not a problem and he was in the next session again,” added Klopp. “We did not train a lot in the end of the season, of course, because we were more or less constantly playing, but he played constantly.”
“Now in the World Cup, [playing] three times [for] 120 minutes it got a bit worse, but I am pretty sure it will settle in the next one, two or three weeks. In that time he can probably for sure train already, but not the full programme, so that will then take time.”
There’s still an odd little bit of coyness in Klopp’s remarks, but taken at face value, this should be a relief to supporters that the club know what they’re dealing with, and that the issue appears to be something that Lovren had already been managing with the staff last season. The prognosis of “one, two or three weeks” is, however, not great for the squad, given that Joël Matip and Ragnar Klavan are still unavailable (and with Joe Gomez only recently having gotten over a knock of his own).
Hopefully Gomez can stay healthy, and Lovren’s issue resolves itself with some rest. If not, Liverpool could be a hair’s breadth away from contemplating Fabinho next to Van Dijk.