According to reports from The Mirror, Liverpool have been handed a massive boost ahead of their FIFA Club World Cup final on Saturday after Virgil van Dijk returned to training in Qatar on Friday morning.
Van Dijk, 28, missed the European champions’ semi-final victory to Monterrey on Wednesday which was secured courtesy of a Roberto Firmino stoppage-time winner.
Liverpool are looking to claim the FIFA CWC for the first time in their illustrious 127-year history when they take on Brazilian outfit Flamengo in a repeat of the 1981 final.
With Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip currently out injured as well as Van Dijk suffering through illness, it meant club-captain Jordan Henderson was forced to cover at centre-back.
Liverpool’s depleted squad forced Jurgen Klopp to fly out defensive duo Ki Jana-Hoever and Seb Van Den Berg out to the middle east after both of them started in the 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa on Tuesday.
What RTK has to say
Van Dijk’s involvement in training comes as an almighty boost to Liverpool’s World Cup prospects. The UEFA Player of the Year has only missed one match – excluding the Carabao and FA Cup – since making his Premier League debut for Liverpool in 2018.
Henderson adapted well and delivered an assured performance considering the circumstances. However, without the presence of Van Dijk, the whole team lacked composure and assurance in the victory in Doho on Wednesday evening.
Joe Gomez, in particular, struggled and even escaped a red card after being forced to play without his regular central defensive partner.
The Ballon d’Or runner-up has been Liverpool’s most transformative signing this century. The difference in performance since his £75 million arrival in January 2018 is stark. The semi-final victory was the first real indicator of what the Reds look like without Van Dijk and it was a worrying sight.
The Dutch powerhouse has to start if Liverpool are to make history and become world champions for a first time.