Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk a doubt for trip to Chelsea

Chris Bascombe
The Telegraph

Virgil van Dijk, the Liverpool centre-back, faces a race against time as manager Jürgen Klopp sweats on the fitness of the Dutchman ahead of his side's top-of-the-table meeting with Chelsea this weekend.

Van Dijk only returned to first-team training on Friday with a rib injury, although manager Klopp will give the centre-back every chance of making it to Stamford Bridge.

"Virgil is a world-class player, there is no doubt about that, and if you miss a world-class player it is not cool,” said Klopp.

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“If Virgil is fit and can play then he will play, but if not then obviously we have options. His impact is always obvious, but we could play football before Virgil van Dijk and we can play without Virgil, thank God.

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"But I prefer that he is fit and available and I can make decisions, if he needs a rest or not in one of the other games. For the last game he was not available but now we will see for tomorrow.”

Klopp, however, does have Dejan Lovren available again, while Joe Gomez is likely to return.

Whoever features will be tasked with ensuring Eden Hazard a quieter game than he did midweek when he came off the bench at Anfield before scoring the winner to knock Liverpool out of the Carabao Cup.

“I know exactly how good he is,” said Klopp. “Eden Hazard is a special player, obviously, and he enjoys these one-on-one situations or one versus two or three situations, he enjoys it. I didn't need that game to know about Eden, it was already clear before.

“Stopping passes to Hazard is is good idea. Being close to him is also a good idea.

“We all know that we could have defended that goal that he scored – we had three chances. Yes, he did well but if we had made one 100 hundred per cent challenge in four or five situations Eden Hazard can't do what he did.

“No player is not defendable, but they are difficult to defend. We have those players as well so it's good but we have to make sure we close the right spaces and if we have a challenge we should try to win it a bit more than we did in that situation.”

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