Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk has already resumed light training following his ACL injury last month, raising the possibility the Dutchman could complete his comeback and be back on the pitch for the Reds before the end of the season.
Van Dijk ruptured the ACL in his right knee as a result of a reckless and dangerous challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park.
He underwent successful surgery in London just under two weeks later and is already looking at the next stage of his rehabilitation.
A report from the Daily Mail explains that Van Dijk has now started light recovery work, which is low impact training intended to prepare his body for the second more intense phase of rehab.
It is not clear if Van Dijk is ahead of schedule or not, but his recovery so far and his ability to already be involved in some form of training is a promising sign for Liverpool.
It is also an important boost for the Netherlands national team, who will want him available and at full fitness in time for Euro 2020, which is their first major tournament since 2014.
Prior to his injury, Van Dijk hadn’t personally enjoyed the best start to the 2020/21 season, off the pace in the opening day 4-3 win over Leeds and culpable like the rest of the team in the 7-2 embarrassment at the hands of Aston Villa. In his absence, Liverpool have failed to keep a clean sheet in the Premier League, while the defence has been further ravaged by injuries.
Emergency stand-in Fabinho is expected to return to fitness soon, but Joe Gomez will miss most of the rest of the season as a result of damaging a knee tendon during an England training session last week. Joel Matip is back for now, but the 29-year-old has had a patchy fitness record over the last couple of seasons and has already missed a chunk of the current campaign.
Rhys Williams, who returned from England Under-21 duty an injury doubt, and Nathaniel Phillips are the only other recognised centre-backs in the Liverpool squad, but neither has much experience.
Despite their centre-back issues, the Reds do not currently intend to dip into the transfer market in January. A new central defender has been on their radar since selling Dejan Lovren without replacing him in July, but recruitment plans are thought to be focused on the summer.
That could change and bringing in a centre-back has not been ruled out – the Anfield hierarchy have informed Jurgen Klopp they are prepared to do a deal if it makes financial sense – but the preference for now remains to wait until the end of the season.
Scouts have been tracking Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, Villarreal’s Pau Torres, Shakhtar Donetsk’s Mykola Matvienko, Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano since the summer as they assess potential options. They are seeking long-term and don’t wish to pay over £40m.