…After Lack of Training
Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk remains a ‘major’ doubt to face Flamengo in the Club World Cup final in Qatar on Saturday evening after still not making a full return to training.
Van Dijk has been suffering with illness since Liverpool flew to the Gulf state and has already missed the semi-final against Mexican club Monterrey, a game for which the Reds lined up with Jordan Henderson at centre-back due an ongoing injury crisis.
The Daily Mirror explains that Van Dijk, having already been forced to leave a training session early ahead of the semi-final, took part in some fitness work on Thursday. But he was unable to complete the full session and so hasn’t fully trained at all while Liverpool have been in Qatar.
With that lack of proper training over several days in mind, it puts a significant question mark over whether the Netherlands international will be available for Saturday’s final.
“I don’t know how quick he can recover. We will see,” Klopp said earlier this week.
If Van Dijk is unable to return against Flamengo it will be a huge blow for Liverpool. The Reds were already threadbare at the back owing to the absences of Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren.
With Fabinho, who filled in as an emergency centre-back last season, also sidelined, Jordan Henderson was forced to drop into the back four against Monterrey. It could be that the Reds captain is asked to do so again, and while he is willing, it is not his preferred scenario.
“I don’t know what will happen with Virgil on Saturday. Fingers crossed he will be okay,” Henderson is quoted as saying by the Liverpool Echo. “Of course, if the manager needed me to go there again, I would do it. It is anything to help the team.”
James Milner played at right-back against Monterrey so that Trent Alexander-Arnold could be rested. Klopp has also sought to bolster the squad by drafting in youngsters Sepp van den Berg, who is celebrating his 18th birthday, and Ki-Jana Hoever, both of whom played in the 5-0 mauling at the hands of Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.