Virgil van Dijk made his return against Hertha Berlin last week after missing the majority of last season with anterior cruciate ligament injury. It was a significant moment, and perhaps even slightly ahead of schedule.
For the player, both those first minutes back and even his return to team training were both a little nervous and exciting in a way that returning for pre-season or getting one’s first minutes in a friendly wouldn’t be.
“I’m doing well,” Van Dijk said in an interview for the club’s official website. “It’s obviously been a tough pre-season, coming back from such a long time to be playing and training with the boys again is a big thing.
“The start of team training was such a big day for me. Normally I don’t really get nervous but those kind of small things make me, not nervous, but a bit excited and stuff. The same goes for the game.
“There are obviously plenty of things to improve still and to get back to full fitness, but to get out there again gave me so much confidence. That’s what I want to do, so I just keep going and the next one is on Thursday.”
Up next for Van Dijk and Liverpool is an unusual double friendly against Bologna, a pair of 60-minute matches back to back on Thursday before the team return to England ahead of the start of the 2021-22 season.
Somewhere in the 120 minutes set to be played, Van Dijk is expecting at least 30 minutes of action for himself—as well as for fellow centre half returning from most of a season out injured teammate Joe Gomez.
“I’ve heard we’ll play at least 30 minutes,” Van Djik said of what he expects for Gomez and himself when Liverpool face Bologna in pre-season action on Thursday. “It could be maybe longer. Then we just build it up.
“We have another friendly which I am looking forward to at Anfield, of course, so I will get more minutes then if things go well. Then the league will start. At the end of the day, we will see how it progresses.”