Virgil van Dijk “looks absolutely ready,” according to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, to make his injury comeback this weekend against Newcastle United.
The hamstring injury Van Dijk sustained during Liverpool’s 3-1 loss to Brentford on January 2 has prevented him from playing for the Reds.
The 31-year-old’s injury turned out to be more serious than first thought, as he was out for six weeks before making a comeback on the bench for Monday’s 2-0 victory over Everton.
Van Dijk has improved his rehabilitation on the training field this week, and Klopp is prepared to play him against Newcastle after he was not used as a substitute in the Merseyside derby.
When asked if he would like to start Saturday’s match at St. James’ Park, Klopp responded:
“I think so. Yesterday he looked absolutely ready.
“I think [on Friday] he will look the same, and we will then make a decision.”
Being without fellow center-back Ibrahima Konate ahead of Tuesday’s first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid, Van Dijk’s return is a big win for Liverpool.
For Liverpool, Luis Diaz and Thiago Alcantara are still out, and Klopp has confirmed that Calvin Ramsay, a promising defender, will miss the entire season due to surgery.
“Even if he could come back a bit earlier, it makes no sense,” Klopp said of highly rated Ramsay, who has made two senior appearances since joining from Aberdeen.
“We’ve had to build him up physically, so he can have a new start [next season] when we go again. He’s a great talent, a real talent who’s had the most unlucky start possible.”
In order to improve their options ahead of a crucial Premier League trip to Newcastle, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota returned from injuries earlier this week.
If they win, the Reds may cut the distance between themselves and their opponents in fourth place to six points with one game remaining.
Newcastle, who have the best defensive record in the division, have only lost one league game all season, to a Liverpool goal in the 98th minute in the rematch from August.
“This is a massive game. If you want to reach something this season, we have to chase everybody, especially those who are ahead of us in the table,” Klopp said.
“It will never be easy, but we have to try. It’ll be tough; Newcastle are the best defence in the league, lost just once to us, we needed a late goal.
“They are very consistent and that is the first step to success.
“Eddie Howe has done an exceptional job, absolutely exceptional. The financial possibilities they have, or will have, are exceptional, but it is not because of that, not at all.
“He arrived in a difficult situation, they stayed comfortably in the league and now the team is unrecognisable. He’s turned them around, and they are a proper threat.”