Crocked Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk sent his teammates an upbeat message for the rest of the season after sustaining an ACL injury.
The talismanic Liverpool defender has torn his ACL and now faces several months on the sidelines.
It comes as another blow to Liverpool, who are already without first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker due to injury. Alisson and Van Dijk are widely regarded as the two signings that turned Liverpool into title winners.
Until Saturday, Van Dijk had an near-faultless injury record while at Liverpool. The towering Dutchman has started the last 94 Premier League matches. He is a hugely influential figure in their defence and dressing room. A captain in everything but name.
Life without Van Dijk continues for Liverpool on Saturday as they host Sheffield United.
Ahead of the game, skipper Jordan Henderson has revealed how Van Dijk is in good spirits, despite the setback.
Writing in Liverpool’s programme notes, Henderson says the Dutchman sent an uplifting message to his uplifting in the wake of his injury.
“It’s his presence and personality that will leave a hole on matchdays and in the training sessions,” Henderson told Liverpool’s matchday programme. “As important as the fans think he is, to us as team-mates it’s even more so.
“It was typical of Virgil that after digesting the news, one of the first messages he sent to us – all of us – was upbeat and inspirational.
“The exact content will of course remain private, but there wasn’t one word in there feeling sorry for himself. It was all about looking ahead and making sure he comes back better and stronger.
“Likewise when he came to Melwood on Tuesday he just radiated positivity. That’s the big man. And it’s on us to take his lead and only think about the positive impact we can all have from this moment on.
“Any team on the planet would miss Virgil, that’s just common sense. But in the spirit of not making an issue bigger than it needs to be, we can’t do anything about that for a while. What we can do is focus on being better ourselves.”
Henderson on Liverpool squad depth
Henderson also assessed the players Liverpool could turn to in the absence of their inspirational Dutchman.
He added: “I look at the players we have who can play that position and I wouldn’t swap them for anyone else. Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho are international-quality players who have produced for us time and time again.
“Nat Phillips is nearly back to full fitness and has the making to be a very good centre-half. Rhys Williams has impressed me so much with his attitude and his mentality. Billy Koumetio and Sepp van den Berg likewise. All learning in the best environment there is.
“Are any of them Virgil van Dijk? No… but they don’t need to be. They just need to be themselves and give everything they have for this club, be it in training or when called upon in games. And the rest of us have to be there to help.
“Virgil will back with us in no time at all, I’m sure. Because he is such an extraordinary professional I know he will come back not just as good but better. He’s the sort of character who will use the time out to learn and develop. But while we wait for him we don’t stop.”