Liverpool centre back Virgil van Dijk will need a miracle to play any part in the club’s Premier League title defence this season, manager Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday.
The 29-year-old van Dijk, Dutch defender was injured against Everton in October, needing knee surgery after goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s reckless challenge.
British media suggested this week he may return in April.
“No doctor told me there’s a chance for van Dijk to play again this season. I don’t want to say it’s impossible but it’s not likely,” Klopp told reporters ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League game against Brighton & Hove Albion.
“If there is no space (in the squad) we have to make a decision.
If he’s on the list it’s only because we hope for a miracle.
“I think we have space for van Dijk on the Champions League (squad) list. If we have space, then van Dijk will be on the list.”
Liverpool brought in defensive reinforcements on transfer deadline day, signing centre-backs Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak, even as they were hit with more bad news that defender Joel Matip was also out for the season with an ankle ligament injury.
“I don’t have the right words for it. It’s a big, big blow,” Klopp added. “You lose the player on the pitch and also the person in the dressing room. It looks like he will need surgery … It’s really harsh.
“These last few weeks … we had to consider our situation and what we have to do.
We were looking in each league and then I saw Ben and was really interested … He’s a really competitive player who is used to playing a lot of games.
“Ozan is still a talent and has proven a lot. He’s here now in a stable team and we’re doing a lot of things that can help him and he can help us.”
Having comfortably won the title last season, Liverpool lies third just over half-way through this campaign, with 40 points, four behind Manchester City who have a game in hand, and one behind Manchester United.
They are into the last 16 of the Champions League.