Liverpool face anxious wait as Virgil Van Dijk plays down injury worry ahead of Leeds United clash
Virgil Van Dijk went down clutching his ankle following a challenge from Halil Dervisoglu during injury time in the Netherlands’ World Cup Qualifier against Turkey.
The Netherlands went ahead inside one minute before Leicester City’s Çağlar Söyüncü saw red, meaning Turkey went into the break three goals and one man down.
With sixty seconds of injury time to play, the Netherlands were six goals up when last-ditch pressure from the Turks forced Dutch goalkeeper Justin Bijlow to play Van Dijk a hospital pass.
With a heavy tackle, Van Dijk was dispossessed by Dervisoglu, whose teammate Cengiz Ünder claimed a consolation goal for Turkey as Van Dijk rolled around in pain on the floor.
The 30-year-old played the incident down in local media following the game, claiming that he was “already over it”, but head coach Louis Van Gaal offered a different view of his captain’s condition.
“The last one, could not happen in my opinion, but it was a soft ball of our right full-back," said Van Gaal.
"And by law the goalkeeper, who played three fantastic matches, makes a mistake, also a slow ball. That's why Virgil van Dijk is a little bit injured now."
Van Dijk ignored speculation in a social media post on the evening of the game, choosing not to address the question of whether or not he had picked up an injury in the qualifier.
“Proud captain today,” the post read. “Great performance all round. What a great atmosphere too! Now time to head back to Liverpool and prepare for a tough couple of weeks ahead.”
Van Dijk scored in Liverpool’s 4-3 victory over Leeds United at Anfield on the opening day of the Whites’ first season back in the Premier League for 16 years, before missing the return fixture along with most of the 2019-20 season to an anterior cruciate ligament rupture.
On Sunday afternoon, Elland Road will host the Reds again and this time there remains doubt over Van Dijk’s availability for the clash after coach and player gave conflicting versions of events.
Liverpool, who face existing selection difficulties as FIFA are considering a five-day ban on players who were not released for international break, have not provided an update on the Dutch centre-back.
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