Jürgen Klopp has offered an upbeat assessment on his Liverpool centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, saying they “look really good” as they build towards comebacks from long-term injuries.
Liverpool, who were decimated by injuries to the backline last season which killed off their title defence, are also hoping to have Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joël Matip back soon as they build up their fitness at a training camp in Salzburg.
Klopp was without Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip for much of the campaign and was forced into playing the midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson at centre-half while also leaning on the inexperienced duo of Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams. However, with his three most experienced defenders now closing in on a playing return and the £36m purchase of Ibrahima Konaté, Klopp was all smiles as he plotted his pre-season campaign which begins with games against Mainz and Hertha Berlin in Austria.
Klopp told the Liverpool website: “Virg and Joe will not have double sessions now for the first few days with the team. They have a second session of the day but it’s with the rehab department, physiotherapy – these kinds of things. That’s for these two. [They] look really good. I don’t know exactly when we can make the next steps but it will happen in the next four weeks. For sure, we will get a big step forward.”
Matip did not feature for Liverpool after February following ankle ligament damage while Alexander-Arnold’s thigh injury in England’s warm-up game against Austria ruled him out of Euro 2020.
Klopp said: “Joel looks good, absolutely, he is the closest probably to normal training and then we will see when we get him started for playing. Trent was a serious enough injury but now not a major one, I would say. He is close but for the moment, probably the next five or six days he has a special programme – from time to time with the team, from time to time by himself. But then in five or six or seven days he should be in normal team training.”
On Konaté, Klopp said: “First of all, obviously he is very excited! I saw on social media he had his own shirt presentation in five different venues in Paris! Great. He is a good guy, I knew that before.
“Physically, because of the situation, we met now [for] the first time here – apart from the games when we played Leipzig, obviously. He is a good guy, he is really happy to be here. I’m really happy to have him around. He is a young boy still, unbelievably young, but experienced already. [He] played some really good stuff in the past and hopefully even better stuff in the future.”