The Dutch head coach Frank de Boer expressed his hopes that his side’s captain Virgil van Dijk will be fit for UEFA Euro 2020, letting him to decide on his inclusion in the now 26-men squad. The Liverpool star has not played in the pitch since October where he suffered knee ligament damage, which required surgery, in the stalemate Merseyside derby after a dangerous tackle from Jordan Pickford.
“I think he has to decide, it is his career,” the Netherlands boss told a sports news agency. “I can imagine that he is in a dilemma. Can It mean something for Oranje? I hope he has made giant steps in his rehabilitation.” Last week, the Dutch center back posted a video on his social media accounts of him doing some light jogging. De Boer is set to name his preliminary squad for Euro 2020 on Friday.
The 29-year-old led Netherlands to an impressive Euro 2020 result last year and ended their self-inflicted exile from major tournament football, having failed to reach Euro 2016 or last year’s World Cup. In a 0-0 draw away to Northern Ireland, the Dutch team secured a top-two finish in Group C. They needed just a draw to guarantee a spot at its first international tournament since the 2014 World Cup.
Meanwhile, the Reds’ manager Jürgen Klopp earlier ruled out hopes of Virgil van Dijk playing for the Netherlands, saying that “nobody should force it and nobody will”. In an interview, Klopp insisted the center-back will likely need the more time to get himself back to full fitness. “Virgil’s knee. Look, I don’t want to hold Virgil back but you can’t force it as well,” Klopp said.
Klopp also warns that Van Dijk’s recovery takes weeks to fully used in the pitch. “You are all long enough in the business to know that if you want to play you have to train before – and proper football training. It takes weeks. Not a week before,” Klopp said. “You cannot be out for ten or 11 months, train for one week and then play football. That is not possible, it should not be possible.”
The Anfield boss also revealed that he will not force Van Dijk to the pitch unless he is already fit to play. “No one is holding Virgil back. I can promise all the people in Holland that we cannot force it, and we will not. We speak about a player and his career, so nobody should force it and nobody will. Not Holland, not us and not Virgil as well. It’s just about getting as fit as possible,” he said.
With the number of squad increased to 26, De Boer has plenty of other options to take over Van Dijk’s place in defense, instead of depending on the 29-year-old, who the Reds will be desperate to make sure is fit to go in time for the start of the 2021-22 campaign. The current Premier League champions suffered a massive setback, sitting on the 6th place of the current table with less chance of being present in either Champions or Europa League.
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