In sport, there will always be setbacks. And there will always then be talk of turning those setbacks into added motivation; more reason to push on and achieve. It is, perhaps, a touch cliche. This Liverpool side, though, has shown time and again they can do just that.
So it’s perhaps not entirely surprising their latest setback, losing Virgil van Dijk, aka the world’s best centre half, to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, is being used as a call to further come together as a group. To push on and to find ways to win in his absence.
“We’ve got to do everything we can to help make us stronger and basically go and win as many games as we can for him, really,” said captain Jordan Henderson. “That’s down to us as players to make sure we’re still fighting to be successful and fighting for trophies.
“You’ve got to use times like this to be stronger and to be even more together than we already are and use it as a positive in some way. I know it sounds ridiculous at the moment, but that’s what you need to try to do however many months Virgil will be out for.”
In the short term, the club will be counting on two talented but injury-prone players staying fit, as both Joël Matip and Joe Gomez have in the past shown they have the talent to do the job for a club aspiring to glory in both the Premier League and Champions League.
Fitness at the back, though, will be a major concern now in a way it wasn’t with a seemingly indestructible Van Dijk anchoring the back line, and if Matip and Gomez can’t stay healthy it could be a struggle to make it to January when reinforcements can be brought in.
Beyond the issues for the team, Henderson’s concerns are with Van Dijk, who will face his own struggles sidelined for at least the remainder of the 2020-21 season, though the captain—who has had his own injury struggles—believes support will be there for him.
“I’m just gutted for him,” Henderson added. “It’s been a tough couple of days, but that’s when you need to be there for each other. I’ll be there as much as I possibly can for him, but he’s a strong character, he’s strong mentally, and he certainly will be back.”