Jurgen Klopp has revealed that defensive duo Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are unlikely to feature in Liverpool’s next pre-season friendly after sitting out Friday’s 1-0 triumph over Mainz.
The Reds are currently in Austria and had faced Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart before taking on the manager’s former club. Luca Kilian’s own goal gave the Merseysiders victory in front of 3,500 supporters at Untersberg-Arena. The German tactician fielded entirely different teams in each half to ensure his squad gained as much game time as possible.
But Van Dijk and Gomez were notable by their absence. Both stoppers missed a considerable chunk of last season.
Van Dijk’s season ended after a challenge with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford on October 17. Gomez was not seen again after injuring a tendon in his left knee while on England duty in November.
Both were sorely missed as Liverpool’s season nosedived dramatically after the turn of the year. They rallied to qualify for the Champions League and need their big guns back.
But it seems as though fans will need to wait a bit longer to see the two centre-halves in action. The Anfield outfit face Hertha Berlin next Thursday but the duo will again likely be spectators.
“Yes, I would still be surprised, unfortunately,” Klopp replied to LFCTV when asked if the pair would be available. “They look really good, they do everything. They play football, we keep them in training, we do the things we can do. They don’t do too much.”
And the 54-year-old explained why he has refused to give them any minutes on the pitch to date.
“We have to be patient. We prepare for a full season, not a pre-season game,” he added. “I will not risk it. We have a lot of games coming, pre-season games, but I don’t see them being involved in the next one.”
Plenty of cover for Van Dijk
The big guns may have been on the sidelines but it has given others a chance to shine. Defenders Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, Rhys Williams, Ben Davies, Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio have all played in Austria.
But news that Van Dijk and Gomez have been involved with ball work will give hope of a return. It might not be for the season opener.
Liverpool open their account with a trip to Carrow Road to take on promoted Norwich on August 14.