Jurgen Klopp has warned Frank de Boer and the Netherlands national side against forcing Virgil van Dijk to return to competitive football too soon following his ACL injury.
The 29-year-old has been out of action for the Reds for much of the season, since sustaining the long-term injury in the Merseyside derby in mid-October.
“I don’t want to hold Virgil back but you can’t force it as well. You are all long enough in the business to know that if you want to play you have to train before – and proper football training,” the German told reporters in his pre-match presser, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
“It takes weeks. Not a week before. You cannot be 10 or 11 months out, train for one week and then play football. That is not possible, it should not be possible.
“No one is holding Virgil back – I can promise all the people in Holland that we cannot force it, and we will not.
“We speak about a player and his career, so nobody should force it and nobody will.”
Having only recently returned to straight-line running, there are serious concerns that playing in the European Championships this summer, let alone for any of the Merseysiders’ remaining league fixtures, is setting an unrealistic target for the Dutchman.
Given the defender’s recent progress, of course, it’s possible that the No.4 could still make himself available for the latter end of the competition (dependent on how far De Boer’s men progress), however, it’s a risk Klopp will no doubt prefer Van Dijk avoiding.