Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp insists Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez will not be rushed back into action despite their return against Hertha BSC.
The central-defensive pairing came on together for the last 20 minutes of The Reds’ 4-3 friendly defeat against Hertha Berlin in Innsbruck, Austria.
However, Klopp has revealed that their return to full fitness will continue at a slow, patient rate as he manages the expectations of Liverpool fans everywhere.
From Liverpool’s new training venue, Évian in France, Klopp sat down to speak with Liverpoolfc.com.
When asked if Van Dijk and Gomez were likely to get some more game time in their upcoming friendly fixtures, Klopp said that was the plan but also highlighted how careful they have to be with the duo for now:
“Hopefully, yes. That’s how it looks in the moment. I want to make it really clear, we push nothing. We just don’t. We wait a little bit, the players come, we have now with Dr Andreas Schlumberger a real specialist who is in constant talks and always observing everything. We know exactly how they feel – how they really feel and not what they tell us because they obviously are desperate to play again. It looks good, this morning [it was a] normal training session. Sometimes in moments we swap Virgil and Joe a little bit so maybe the intensity doesn’t get too high, but in general, it looks really good. How many minutes on Thursday, I don’t know but there will be some minutes for sure.”
Klopp was asked for his assessment on his team’s performances so far, giving an insight into just what he feels needs to improve before kicking off their Premier League season against Norwich City:
“We have to improve in all departments, of course. We played some really good stuff, that’s true, but if we didn’t score from it, who cares? That’s football. For not losing football games you have to make sure that you don’t concede goals. The goals [against] were easy to explain, why they got it, and probably to explain as well why the players involved in the goal were not where they maybe should have been. I absolutely prefer to make these kind of mistakes in pre-season because you can talk about it, it’s easy; yes, we criticise it, but not in the manner where we say on top of that we lost three very important points. It is just a pre-season game, make the analysis and carry on.
“It is clear we have to improve; we have to improve offensively as well. But from a formation point of view – how compact the formation is and so on – we have some space [to improve], but that’s always the same. When I look back at the years, it was always learning defending again, like pressing again, is as much to do with timing. Timing has to do with a clear brain and fresh legs, but you never have [them] – fresh legs especially – in the pre-season. It is pretty much not possible, but you still want it. In training it looks good and when we don’t do it for 45 minutes, just like two or three or four minutes, and really adjust in the right way then it looks good and so I am happy with it, we have to just make sure we get the right mindset for the first game because that’s the biggest difference – it’s not a pre-season friendly anymore, we have to go with all we have. We only do all of these things because we want to win football games – we want to win many football games – and win something special.”
Liverpool will play Italian side Bologna in Évian on Thursday in two separate games. The first match kicks off at 3pm UK time and the second one is at 5pm. Both sides will field two separate starting lineups for these games.
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