Jurgen Klopp has refused to put a ‘timescale’ on a potential return for Virgil van Dijk and has discussed Fabinho’s credentials as a replacement for the injured defender at centre-back.
Van Dijk will almost certainly miss the majority of the season after sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury during last weekend’s Merseyside Derby draw with Everton, the Dutch defender requiring surgery and set for an extended period on the sidelines.
Estimates have suggested the Netherlands captain will miss between six to nine months of action, however, ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Sheffield United at Anfield, Klopp explained why he is keen to avoid placing a timeframe on Van Dijk’s return to action.
“I can understand that people are interested in that. When the surgery will happen and that I don’t think it makes sense to be a timescale every day. But he’s as good as possible,” the Liverpool boss said at his pre-match press conference.
“We don’t want to know how long he’ll be out for. It will take time, that is clear, but all people are different and we shouldn’t limit him by saying ‘it took this person this long and this person this long’. It becomes individual because everyone copes differently with it.”
Klopp chose to utilise midfielder Fabinho in a centre-back role for the midweek win at Ajax in the Champions League, with the Brazil international producing a superb display alongside Joe Gomez, including a decisive goal-line clearance to preserve a clean sheet.
Klopp insists he has full confidence in the 27-year-old’s ability to replace Van Dijk when called upon, and believes a new-look backline will improve as they continue to play together in the coming weeks.
“They are different players but both can defend,” he said. “We all know Fab can play this position, he did it against Bayern in a home game, for example, and he played great.
“I’m not surprised but it is all about players getting used to playing together.
“This line had not played together before the Ajax game, I don’t think, and there are a lot of things from an organisational point of view.
“You cant talk about it or exchange notes, it is about feeling what is right. It will take time for these boys to get used to each other.”