Virgil van Dijk has confirmed the next steps of his Liverpool recovery after making his first appearance since October against Hertha Berlin
Virgil van Dijk has revealed he’s set to play 30-minutes for Liverpool against Bologna on Thursday as he continues his ongoing return from an ACL injury.
The Dutchman made his first appearance of pre-season against Hertha Berlin on Thursday, having been sidelined since last October’s Merseyside derby.
Coming off the bench for the final 20 minutes against the Bundesliga outfit, the 30-year-old came through the clash unscathed and revealed what what he told Jurgen Klopp to convince the German he was ready to make his Liverpool playing comeback.
“It’s something I’ve worked for (for) so long. It might be a small thing, but the start of team training was such a big day for me,” he said. “Normally I don’t really get nervous but those kind of small things make me, not nervous, but a bit excited and stuff.
“The same goes for the game. You’ve been visualising so many times yourself playing a game again and just to be out there again.
“There are obviously plenty of things to improve still and to get back to full fitness, but to get out there again gave me so much confidence.
“I am just ready to crack on, to push on again. That’s what I want to do, so I just keep going and the next one is on Thursday.
“Obviously Andreas Schlumberger is in close contact with the coaching staff, with Pep (Ljinders) and with the manager. That’s how we make sure we are making, and taking, the right decisions.
“We are in close contact with Andreas making sure we are giving the right feedback, we have to be honest with ourselves, and that’s how we are where we are at the moment.
“The same goes now for Thursday; I’ve heard we’ll play at least 30 minutes, but it could be maybe longer, and then we just build it up.
“We have another friendly which I am looking forward to at Anfield, of course, at the weekend or on Monday, one of the two, so I will get more minutes then if things go well.
“Then the league will start. At the end of the day, it’s all about what the manager wants and we will see how it progresses.”
Van Dijk continued: “I think from day one of pre-season, day two when we started to have team training, it was always going to be a case of how things would go because no-one really has an idea of how me and Joe (Gomez) was, in that case, (but) also how it reacts because that’s the most important thing.
“You can do team training again, but if your knee reacts to it or your knee can’t handle it then obviously you have to slow down a little bit.
“Surprisingly for some, things have been going very well, no reaction, the feeling is good, the confidence is there and it’s just about getting back to fitness.
“In the beginning, we didn’t have double sessions and as the time went on, we started to do that well, progressed, so I felt like I was ready to get some minutes.
“That’s what I said to the manager and to Pep (Lijnders), then we had the discussion with Andreas Schlumberger.
“That’s how the ball started rolling and then we started to build up to the game.
“Your family knows about it, that you’re going to get your minutes and then it comes (out) in the media, so everybody is already on the edge of their seats and looking forward to it – probably me the most out of everyone!”
While Van Dijk has now made his playing return, he is well-aware he can’t rush his return as he continues to get back up to speed after so long on the sidelines.
Happy to get that first appearance under his belt, the Dutchman admitted he felt drained after facing Hertha but insists it is what he needs as he steps up his recovery ahead of the new season.
“After the game, I was empty, drained. I’d played 20 minutes, but it wasn’t because of the game,” he told the club. “It was because of everything that had happened the whole week and the whole day.
“That’s something that sums it up because it was not only the game that was so intense, it was everything around it as well. The whole preparation, your whole mind had been going into a mode (in) that you’re overthinking everything.
“You think about what you’re going to do on your first touch, what you’re going to do with this and that. So, as I said, I was just happy that this was done, we did it, and now it’s just to crack on again. Thursday is the next one.”
He continued: “It’s something we need. I said to Pep two days after the Hertha Berlin game that even though I was drained after the game, I felt like I wanted to play again tomorrow.
“It is just that feeling of being out there again, progressing again, getting yourself more rhythm. It’s crazy to think that you are going to be top again when you didn’t play professional game or a high-level game for nine months, so you just want to have repetition, you want to continue, keep repeating things.
“I know for a fact that training on your own can’t replicate training with the group, but training with the group can’t replicate what is going on in a game. So, you need those games.
“I am taking it all in, it’s tough and there will be difficult moments, but that’s something I take in.”