Van Dijk set Liverpool & Euros fitness ‘goal’ by Gullit as defender steps up recovery from knee ligament injury

Van Dijk set Liverpool & Euros fitness ‘goal’ by Gullit as defender steps up recovery from knee ligament injury

A Dutch icon is looking for a fellow countryman to figure again at club level before joining the Oranjes for a shot at international glory

Virgil van Dijk has been set the “goal” of returning to action for Liverpool before joining the Netherlands’ quest for European Championship glory, with Ruud Gullit eager to see a fellow countryman get vital minutes under his belt.

No return date has been set as yet for a commanding centre-half that has been stuck on the sidelines with knee ligament damage since October 2020.

Positive progress has been made in his recovery, but it remains to be seen whether the 29-year-old defender will get any domestic game time before heading away on international duty at another major tournament.

What has been said?

Dutch icon Gullit, who tasted glory at the 1988 Euros, has told beIN Sports on Van Dijk’s fitness race: “I know for sure that if you saw the seriousness of the injury in the beginning, you already know that you’re not going to play a lot of games with Liverpool.

“But you need to have a goal when you have an injury, and his goal was to at least get fit for the Euros, if it’s possible.

“His doctors would say that as well, is it possible.

“Of course the club wants him at least to play a couple of matches before he does, I think in Holland we want that as well.

“I can understand that he has that goal, and I hope that he does get it.

“If he’s going to be fit, he doesn’t have a lot of rhythm, so it’s to be seen.

“For Holland, it’s the most important thing that he plays some matches already with Liverpool.”

How many games has Van Dijk missed?

Van Dijk lasted less than 11 minutes of a Merseyside derby date with Everton on October 17 and has not been seen since.

He has sat out 34 games across all competitions at Liverpool and three fixtures for his country.

No part will be played in the start of 2022 World Cup qualification during the March international break, with more work being put in behind the scenes at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s side still have nine Premier League matches to take in this season, with a top-four finish now the best that the injury-ravaged reigning champions can hope for.

They are also chasing down Champions League glory, having booked a quarter-final date with Real Madrid in that competition, and will be hoping to get Van Dijk back at some stage.

The bigger picture

Liverpool will not be rushing a talismanic figure back into their plans, despite his obvious importance to the collective cause.

The Netherlands will be eager to see him return before the 2020-21 campaign comes to a close, though, as they need him to work of match sharpness before rejoining their ranks.

Frank de Boer’s side are due to open their bid for European Championship glory on June 13 against Ukraine, before going on to face Austria and North Macedonia in Group C.

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