Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Virgil Van Dijk should be ready to start against top four rivals Newcastle.
The Dutchman has been sidelined since Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat against Brentford in early January, but is set to come back into the side for the trip to St James’ Park on Saturday evening.
Klopp said: “Yesterday he looked absolutely ready, we need to see again today but then tomorrow we will make a decision.”
Speaking at the AXA Training Centre, Klopp also confirmed that there won’t be any changes to the squad named for the 2-0 win over Everton on Monday night: “Same squad, nothing has happened since then, just Ibou (Konate) and Luis (Diaz) not ready on the injury side, as well as Thiago and Calvin Ramsay obviously.”
The German added how the latter is likely to be sidelined for the remainder of the season. Despite joining with lots of potential, injuries have halted the progress of Ramsay. The 19-year-old has made just the one appearance for the club, and will have to wait for next season to add to that tally.
Said Klopp: “Calvin has not been his best physically, not often at all while he’s been here. It’s now really about building him up physically, he’s a great talent.”
On the contrary, Klopp was singing the praises of fellow young player Stefan Bajcetic. The Spaniard, named player of the match in Monday’s derby win, has impressed everyone around the club including his manager:
“Stefan played exceptionally, not just because he is 18, but because was just exceptional.”
Bajcetic’s maturity has stood out to supporters so far, controlling games and setting tempo’s despite his tender age. Klopp cited Thiago as one of the key influencers for his progression, with the pair having an interesting family link.
“Stefan and Thiago’s fathers played together at Celta Vigo, and Thiago has really taken him in his skin,” said Klopp.
“The mix of Serbia and Spain is a good one for football, and it’s a pure joy to work with him. He’s an intelligent, top boy.”
The availability of Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota back from injury is huge for Klopp. With hopes of progressing further in Europe whilst mounting a charge for the Premier League’s top four, having a strong squad available is crucial.
“Massive to have the options, Bobby and Diogo were out for a while. Now we need to look how we can use it. There are lots of games coming up, and obviously we hope we can get more games in the Champions League too.”
The additional strength in depth comes at the perfect time for Liverpool, with huge tests coming up both in the league and Champions League. The likes of Fabio Carvalho and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain didn’t make the last matchday squad, whilst others return to full fitness too.
Newcastle will be a tough test for Liverpool, and Klopp reiterated his admiration for the job Eddie Howe has done this season. The Magpies have lost just the one game in the league, and despite recent form being indifferent they remain tough to beat.
Klopp’s hopes are bolstered by the suspension of Bruno Guimaraes, yet he still referenced the likes of Miguel Almiron, Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak as dangerous players.
There is undoubted optimism from Liverpool’s gaffer going into this one, although he is still cautious and wanting to see consistency from his side.