Milner sides with Klopp over Liverpool issue that makes Van Dijk ‘angry’

Date published: Monday 20th September 2021 12:03 - Jonny Whitfield

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk

Liverpool midfielder James Milner believes that manager Jurgen Klopp is right to rotate Virgil van Dijk out of the team, no matter how frustrated it may make the defender.

Netherlands captain Van Dijk is itching to get as many minutes under his belt as possible following his injury. Indeed, he spent the vast majority of last term on the sidelines with a serious knee problem. However, he has returned to impress this season.

He has played in all five of Liverpool’s Premier League games so far. However, he did not feature in the first Champions League game of the campaign against AC Milan.

Instead, Joe Gomez came in for his first appearance of the season alongside Joel Matip.

Tellingly, though, the pair also suffered long-term injuries last term. As such, Klopp has been keen to take care with them both, Matip not in Saturday’s squad for the win over Crystal Palace.

Milner, though, has insisted that Klopp is right to take no risks with his defenders.

“The positions we got into last year, we were unlucky with injuries and players having to play out of position,” the full-back told the Daily Mirror.

“I think it is to help with things like that. We all think Virg is Superman and he is, 99 times out of 100. But the injury that he has come back from – and to look as good as he has done since he has come back! You know, he’s not 21.

“To do what he has done since he’s been back is incredible. It shows what a good player he is, what a mentality he has. But he needs looking after as well, no matter how angry he gets at being left out of the team.”

As well as Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip, Klopp has new centre-back signing Ibrahima Konate in his ranks.

The 22-year-old started alongside Van Dijk against Palace and earned high praise from Klopp for his Premier League debut.

Milner backs Van Dijk, Liverpool rotation

Liverpool duo James Milner and Alisson Becker

“He [Van Dijk] is going to need looking after and that is rotation. You look at the centre-halves in the club – they are all incredible,” Milner added.

“You see them in training, they are unbelievable. It’s a great squad of players and the way we train and work together, everyone knows what they are doing, everyone works hard and everyone knows what is required.

“I think [the win over Palace] is pleasing. We know we can play better but to make the changes we have done and get the result we have is pleasing.

“There is another game in midweek and that will help with getting minutes for other players too.”

Liverpool play Norwich away from home in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday. Under-23s boss Barry Lewtas has hinted that some of the Reds’ younger starlets could make an appearance.


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