Virgil van DIjk kicks a football again as Liverpool defender steps up recovery

Robbie Copeland

OK, everybody calm down.

Virgil van Dijk is back on the training pitch... with A FOOTBALL.

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The big defender hasn't been seen since he took a few Jordan Pickford studs to the knee, and a ruptured cruciate means he isn't expected to return to action until late spring at the earliest.

The official line from Liverpool has been one of caution, and it is understood they are putting no pressure on him to return this season. Behind the scenes, though, the club are doing everything they can to nurse him back to fitness, and he has spent the early part of the new year doing physio work at the Nad Al Sheba sports complex in Dubai.

That explains the splitting sunshine in the background of a video he posted on his Instagram story that has fans all hot under the collar.

As shared on the player's own Instagram stories, Van Dijk posted a short clip of himself back out on the pitch with the ball at his feet. And while we can't read much into his recovery from nine seconds of tentative keepy-uppies, the fact that he is actually playing football again, so soon after a terrible injury, can only be a positive sign.

If you're worried about Virg being out in Dubai on his lonesome, then don't. As he continues his recovery, he has been joined by a member of the Liverpool physio team, while another familiar face swung by to pay a visit.

Former team-mate Dejan Lovren, currently on a mid-season break at Zenit, made sure to check in. The cheesing grins say it all.

On a more serious note, while the early prognosis on Van Dijk's recovery is promising, we shouldn't expect him back any time soon. The player is believed to be targeting the Euros in the summer for a full return to action, but Jurgen Klopp - speaking earlier in January - wouldn't even give that as a target.

When asked by Sky Sports how he is faring, Klopp said: "Good, very good. I have no problem with talking about Virgil van Dijk. It's very good but still a long way to go, that's this kind of injury.

"I'm happy when I see these videos, to be honest, because it just shows that he makes good progress. But it will still take a lot of time, that's how it is. I would like to say something else but these are the facts, unfortunately."