Before Liverpool’s Club World Cup semi-final with Monterrey, Jürgen Klopp was positive about Virgil van Dijk’s involvement even though the Dutchman had missed training ahead the match. But it was clear from the team sheet that the centre-back wasn’t fit to play when his name wasn’t even on the list. Van Dijk was replaced in the team with Jordan Henderson, partnering Joe Gomez. I didn’t have the best feeling about it.
As Klopp’s squad is already desperately thin at the back due to the injuries of Joël Matip and Dejan Lovren, Van Dijk’s absence was worrying. But the big centre back could very well return to the XI for Saturday’s final against Flamengo. Van Dijk has been ill since arriving in Qatar but could rally in the next couple of days.
“It was an easy decision actually because he couldn’t train,” said Klopp.
“Yes, he was yesterday on the [training] pitch for a couple of minutes until the media left [the session] and then, unfortunately, he had to leave as well. Not because of the media, just because he didn’t feel well.
“So yesterday no training was possible, this morning no training possible, so it was an easy decision – he couldn’t play. It was difficult for Hendo to deal with, but he did really good.
“We will see, I don’t know how quick he can recover. We will see.”
If Van Dijk can get out onto the training pitch by Friday he’ll be in the team against Flamengo. That’s possible, I’ll keep telling myself. Flamengo will no doubt be ready with plans to attack Henderson’s weaknesses should he play again at centre half. And the Brazilian team will have days to study him.
On the other hand, Henderson will be one game wiser playing in the defensive unit and sharper because of it. Still, Van Dijk’s inclusion would dramatically strengthen the team. For now, we wait.