Klopp protects van Dijk and Gomez as Liverpool prepare in Austria for Premier League come-back

July 24 – Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says the Reds will not risk playing defenders Virgil van Dijk or Joe Gomezin pre-season until they are completely fit and ready to return.

The Dutch defender has been out of action since last October with an ACL problem, and days later Joe Gomez was also sidelined for the entire year when he damaged his knee, needing surgery.

Both defenders have been training with the Merseyside club in Austria, their pre-season base, but have not played in friendly matches, and the German tactician says they are unlikely to play in Liverpool’s next pre-season match against German club Hertha Berlin on Thursday July 29. Considering their activities in the summer transfer window, the Reds has some player transfer odds available for their fans to keep their hopes up for a potential new signing.

Speaking with media after the 1-0 victory over German side Mainzon Friday night, Klopp said: “It would still be a surprise [if they played against Hertha], unfortunately.

“They look really good. But look, they do everything, they play football, we do the things we can do, they don’t do too much, we just have to be patient. We prepare for a full season, not a pre-season game.

“I will not risk it for a game here. We have a lot of games still coming, but I don’t see them being involved for the next one.”

Luca Kilian‘s own goal in the final minutes of the game settled a drab affair in Austria on Friday night against Klopp’s former team, but he was pleased with what he saw, even if it was not a perfect performance.

“You always have to consider what you did the day before. We had a double session [Thursday], trained this morning, and this is exactly what you need. Good intensive stuff, and try to play the best football you can. It’s pre-season.

“I am happy about a lot of situations I saw. In the first half, I saw some really good football, we passed the ball quite quickly against a well-organised side, a good defending side. It was far away from being perfect, but it is absolutely OK.

“The kids forced for a result in the second half, and they got it, so I’m happy about that.

“We had to defend of course; organisation-wise it’s not even close to where we have to be, but how is that? When you’re tired you try to bring the best organisation possible on the pitch, it’s never about 100%. I think the boys did that today, and so I am happy.

“Nobody injured, which is important, everybody came through, so fine.”

The Liverpool boss gave an ideal debut to summer acquisition Ibrahima Konate in the win, but changed his entire squad at half-time, handing minutes to Leighton Clarkson, Billy Koumetio, Kaide Gordon, Tyler Morton, and Owen Beck, having started Harvey Elliott.

“Harvey Elliott in the first half was really good. The kids are doing well I must say. I really enjoy watching them, and helping them to understand the game better, the position, they have to be brave otherwise it’s a waste of time.

“In our system, how we play, we have to make the difference in one-vs-one situations, you get the ball, if you can make a little difference with a little acceleration, all of a sudden the game changes.

“We did that, Owen (Beck) did that in a couple of times, Kaide (Gordon) did it as well. We had good balls in behind for Divock (Origi). Billy (Koumetio) played his first game of pre-season, was OK as well, so all fine.”

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