Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman claims Virgil van Dijk has been playing with two broken ribs for the last few weeks. However, the former Everton boss admits it will not stop the world’s most expensive centre-back starting for Liverpool at Huddersfield on Saturday. Van Dijk’s rib problem was not a secret, although Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said it was an issue of bruising which the centre-back suffered before their Champions League victory over Paris St Germain in mid-September and forced him off in the subsequent Premier League win over Southampton.
Koeman, though, suggested it was more serious than that after giving the defender the night off for Tuesday’s friendly with Belgium and releasing him back to his club.
“Virgil has played with two broken ribs in the last weeks,” the Holland boss was quoted as saying by Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.
“He wanted to play against Germany and you have to give that club something back now.”
Liverpool have declined to comment on Koeman’s claims, but the injury is not expected to sideline Van Dijk, who has played the full 90 minutes four times since coming off against Saints – against Chelsea, Napoli and Manchester City for the Reds and in Saturday’s Nations League victory over Germany for Holland.
“He’s back in Liverpool but he is ready to play for next week,” Koeman added.
“He’s taken a rest. He spoke to the manager.
“The medical staff of the Dutch national team spoke to the medical staff of Liverpool and made the decision that he was playing only the Germany game and then after back to Liverpool.
“He is ready to play next weekend.”
Liverpool hit by injuries
Liverpool have also had Sadio Mane suffer a thumb injury, although claims in Senegal it is broken have not been verified by the club, and Mohamed Salah a muscle problem while on international duty, but neither has yet been ruled out of the trip to Huddersfield.
Further reports on Tuesday said midfielder Naby Keita had injured his thigh while playing for Guinea, with the national team’s Facebook page revealing he had been withdrawn in the first half of a 1-1 draw with Rwanda.
James Milner, who was forced off with a hamstring injury against City immediately before the international break, is the main doubt for the game at the John Smith’s Stadium.
That game could see the return of fellow midfielder Adam Lallana, who has played just three minutes this season after sustaining a groin injury while on England duty last month. The 30-year-old has stepped up his training in recent weeks, choosing to remain behind rather than travel with the squad for the Champions League match with Napoli earlier this month, to ensure he is ready for when the Premier League season resumes.