Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful that Virgil van Dijk will be able to make his long-awaited comeback from injury in Thursday’s pre-season friendly against Hertha, while Joe Gomez could get back on the pitch for the first time when Athletic Club visit Anfield on 8 August.
Van Dijk and Gomez both missed most of last season because of long-term knee injuries suffered in the early weeks of the campaign. But each has been training well during the club’s pre-season camp in Austria and attention is increasingly focused on when they might get some game time.
Van Dijk, who was injured in mid-October, is slightly further along than Gomez and Klopp hopes to use the Dutch centre-back from the bench against Hertha.
“I hope, I am not sure, that there is the opportunity that Virgil could play a few minutes,” Klopp told LiverpoolFC.com ahead of this week’s friendly against the Bundesliga side.
“He looks really good in training and maybe we can bring [him in], but I need to have some final conversations. He looks ready and we will see.”
Gomez is slightly further away from a return, but Klopp says the 24-year-old is ‘very close’.
“If Virgil can play now 20 then probably Joey can in the game after. We will see. In training they both look really good,” the boss explained.
“I think from time to time there are some pictures of them from training sessions and everyone can see how good it looks, but there is no rush for us. It is not about they now need five pre-season games to be ready for the start or whatever.”
The Hertha game is Liverpool’s last of a pre-season camp in Austria, with the Athletic friendly one of two against Spanish opposition at Anfield next month – Osasuna visit the following day.
Liverpool’s Premier League season starts away against Norwich on Saturday 14 August.