Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that long-term absenteesa Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez are doing well in training, but are still not ready to return to the pitch.
The Reds are currently on a pre-season tour of Austria and have played two ‘mini friendlies’ back to back against Wacker Innsbruck and Stuttgart respectively – both ending 1-1 – before most recently playing a full 90-minute fixture against Mainz, winning 1-0.
Van Dijk and Gomez are both training with the other players in Austria, although neither featured in any of those fixtures. And the Daily Mail report that Klopp is not likely to give them game time in their next pre-season match against Hertha Berlin either, scheduled to take place on Thursday.
“Yeah, it would still be a surprise, unfortunately,” Klopp admitted when asked about the pair’s chances of playing.
“But they look really good. We just have to be patient – we prepare for a full season, not for a pre-season game. I will not risk it for a game here, so we have to see,” stated the Liverpool boss. “We have a lot of games still coming, pre-season games, but I don’t see them being involved for the next one.”
Neither Van Dijk nor Gomez have featured for Klopp’s side in 2021. The Dutch colossus last played in October, rupturing a cruciate ligament in a collision with Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby, while Gomez injured his knee while on England duty in November.
Their combined absence caused the Reds huge problems throughout the 2020/21 campaign and, in an effort to prevent such issues, Liverpool signed Ibrahima Konate for £36m from RB Leipzig earlier in the window.
The Frenchman made his debut for the club alongside Rhys Williams in the mini friendly against Stuttgart, before playing the first half with Joel Matip in Liverpool’s 1-0 victory over Mainz.
Liverpool kick off their Premier League campaign with a trip to newly-promoted Norwich City on Saturday 14 August, although it is still very unsure what centre-back pairing will take to the field on the day.