This week’s preseason friendly against Hertha BSC may have ended in a 4-3 loss for Liverpool, but it featured a poignant moment - the return of Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez to the pitch after season-ending injuries ruled them out for most of last year.
The players and coaching staff were as pleased as fans were to see the two fit to play again, as Pep Lijnders said in his recent ‘diary entry’ on day 20 of Liverpool’s preseason training camp.
“The highlight of the [Hertha] game was Virgil and Joe coming back in the team just before the 70th minute. It must have been so special for them, for sure”, he said.
After months of hard work together, back on the pitch together— Liverpool FC (@LFC) July 29, 2021
A fitting moment ❤️ pic.twitter.com/l6WleegrRQ
And Virgil himself has been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to play again after a long, slow and presumably painful recovery spell.
“On my way to the bus, I’d walked with Virgil and he asked about the plan. He knows it, but asked again… he wants more minutes, haha! ‘The plan? To play a few top passes, to catch a few players with your long legs,’ I told him. I said just enjoy it, try, do your best, because we need doers in our team and that 10 minutes, more or less, isn’t important today”, Lijnders said.
“He told me it is 285 days since the injury and that his whole family would be watching. Unbelievable, what a moment. I told him it would be great if he leads immediately - he said that comes with the package. Hopefully the passes as well, I said. Wow, it’s so good to have him back so close to us. Long may it continue.
“I asked a few of the boys about the game afterwards and they’re all saying it’s a boost for everyone to have Virgil and Joe back.”