Klopp patient as Reds defenders near return

24 July 2021 20:34:31 GMTPlus10

Jurgen Klopp says he will not rush defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez back to action for Liverpool's next pre-season friendly.

The Reds, who are 7/2 to win the Premier League in 2021-22 and 9/1 for Champions League glory, beat Klopp's former club Mainz 1-0 in Austria in their first full pre-season fixture on Friday.

They face Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin on Thursday but Van Dijk and Gomez are unlikely to feature as they continue their recoveries from long-term injuries.

Van Dijk made only five Premier League appearances last season before suffering an ACL injury against Everton in October, while Gomez's campaign was also ended by a serious knee problem in November.

I don't see them being involved for the next one.

Jurgen Klopp

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The pair, along with fellow defenders Joel Matip and Trent Alexander-Arnold, have travelled to Liverpool's pre-season training camp in Austria and Klopp is pleased with their progress.

The signing of RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate, who played 45 minutes against Mainz, means there is less pressure to rush Van Dijk and Gomez back for Liverpool's first game of the Premier League season, away to promoted Norwich on 14th August.

Asked if the centre-backs could return against Hertha on Thursday, Klopp told reporters: "It would still be a surprise, unfortunately. They look really good. They do everything, they play football, we do the things we can do, they don't do too much, we just have to be patient. We prepare for a full season, not a pre-season game.

"I will not risk it for a game here. We have a lot of games still coming, but I don't see them being involved for the next one."

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