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Jamie Carragher lays out his ideal Virgil van Dijk return scenario

Jamie Carragher had a warning for people as Virgil van Dijk makes his return for Liverpool. The Reds legend knows what he wants to see, though.

Virgil van Dijk made his return for Liverpool on Thursday. He played the last portion of the pre-season friendly against Hertha BSC – his first football since October 17th 2020.

It was a wonderful moment as both he and Joe Gomez took to the pitch after long-term injury battles. Both required surgery but both are ready to feature once again.

But this is just the start, of course. There’s a big difference between playing 20 minutes in a friendly and starting a Premier League fixture – there’s a way to go.

And as Virgil van Dijk makes his return, Jamie Carragher is sure to remind people of that.

Carragher on the Van Dijk return

“If [Van Dijk] is back to his best, he is the best central defender in world football and that’s what Liverpool will want over the next five or six years, not the next five or six weeks,” he said, per the Independent.

“If he doesn’t make the first game of the season it’s not the end of the world, it is about making sure Virgil van Dijk is 100 per cent right.

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“So he’s in a position where he can have the next five or six years at Liverpool at a top level.

“It may be a gentle start with Virgil until we see him when he is 100 per cent right, but if that could be on that first game of the season and he can play the next few games I think everyone would be delighted.”

Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

He’s absolutely right, of course. Liverpool need to make sure Van Dijk recovers properly and that means slowly building up his game time.

For one, it’s more important to have him fit for the back end of the season than the front end. Assuming Liverpool have eyes on the Champions League latter stages, that is.

So patience is still key with Van Dijk and Gomez. Ibrahima Konate and Joel Matip will likely be the duo who starts the season, with the regular first-choice pairing proving their fitness and earning their places back.

It’s wonderful to have them back – now let’s guarantee we see the best of them.

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