While the result of Thursday’s preseason friendly against Hertha BSC didn’t go Liverpool’s way, one huge positive came in the 70th minute, when defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez made their triumphant returns to the pitch after months out with injury. Fans have waited all preseason to see the very welcome sight of Liverpool’s top centre-back pairing playing side-by-side once again.
The next friendlies will be two 60 minute matches against Bologna, where Jürgen Klopp plans to field two separate teams. When asked about van Dijk and Gomez’s continued fitness, Klopp seemed very optimistic that they would be getting more minutes against the Italian team.
“That’s how it looks in the moment,” Klopp said. “I want to make it really clear, we push nothing. We just don’t. We wait a little bit, the players come, we have now with Dr Andreas Schlumberger a real specialist who is in constant talks and always observing everything. We know exactly how they feel – how they really feel and not what they tell us because they obviously are desperate to play again.
“It looks good, this morning [it was a] normal training session. Sometimes in moments we swap Virgil and Joe a little bit so maybe the intensity doesn’t get too high, but in general it looks really good. How many minutes on Thursday, I don’t know but there will be some minutes for sure.”
The real goal is to have the duo back in fighting form in two weeks for the start of the Premier League. However, Klopp has emphasized that they will only make them do what they’re ready for. No one wants to go another season without the two of them. But these minutes are a promising start to what hopefully ends up being a productive preseason for their fitness.