Liverpool FC entered this season with only three central defenders as part of the senior team squad. Many pundits and fans, including quite a few on this site, pointed out that it was quite a gamble, especially with the injury history of Joe Gomez and Joël Matip. Of course, no one could imagine that all three players would end up being lost for the season, with van Dijk and Gomez injured early on in the season, and Matip over the winter (after sustaining several smaller injuries).
Of course, the official Liverpool site has been trolling fans with pictures and videos of Virgil van Dijk doing work on the trail to recovery, often before the team drops more bad news. The incessent posts have given some fans false hope that van Dijk in particular might be fit by the end of the season. Jürgen Klopp put the kibosh on that during his pre-match presser when someone asked if the van Dijk and Gomez would be ready for the UEFA Euros this summer.
“That’s not my decision. But, to be honest, the information I have in the moment it will be unlikely,” replied Klopp.
“So, not that I don’t let them go because I don’t want to have to do that anyway, but it’s because of the extent of the injury. We all hope that they will be ready to start the pre-season with us. That’s what we hope. And, by the way, with Joel it’s pretty much the same, he’s just not qualified for the Euros but it’s with him the same.”
For Liverpool fans, this is good news. As has been seen all to often, players rush back from serious injuries to play with their national teams in major competitions, and oftentimes end up getting re-injured, or suffer set backs. Naby Keita has seen his career all but derailed after his national team rushed him back from an injury, causing a cascading series of related injuries after not being allowed to fully heal.
Klopp continued on to give a little more detail on where each of the players stand with their recovery.
These are really serious injuries. And it’s not about now that we talk [about] which competition they can play. As far as I know – and I’m always open for positive surprises, now they all of a sudden show up in team training – but nobody told me that. The two of them look in the moment better than Joel looks because he’s still in his [what] looks like skiing boots. But he is here as well. Joe is not running, Virgil is already running, but this is really a tough one. We are completely over the moon when they are ready to train with us for the start of pre-season. About the Euros, I didn’t think about it. I don’t know when you would have to be back that you are able to play the Euros. The week before? The day when the Euros start? I don’t know. That’s it. I understand maybe the need of that but we cannot make this decision and we will not. It’s just about when they will be fit, they will be fit. That’s how it is.
So there you have it. None of the players will be fit this season, and likely not for the tournaments this summer. As much as it will be difficult for Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to miss out on the Euros this summer, Liverpool fans will selfishly be hoping they are not quite ready at the beginning of the summer, and that the players will be given the time to continue their rehab to be fit ahead of next season.