Jurgen Klopp revealed that Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez looked “really fit” in pre-season training with Liverpool, although he clarified the need for patience for the returning duo.
Van Dijk and other center-back Gomez have been absent long-term during the Reds’ failure to defend the title in the 2020-21 campaign, making a total of just 12 Premier League appearances.
Both are close to a comeback, but Klopp has insisted after a 1-0 friendly win over Mainz on Friday that neither will likely be present in the next game, which will see Liverpool face Hertha Berlin.
Asked on the club’s official website if the defenders could play next Thursday, he replied: “Yes, it would still be a surprise, unfortunately. But they look really good.
“Look, I think, they do everything, they play football, we train them, we do the things we can do, they don’t do too much and stuff like that.
“We just have to be patient: we are preparing for an entire season, not for a pre-season match. I don’t want to risk a game here, so we have to see.
“We still have a lot of games coming up, preseason games, but I don’t see them involved for the next one.”
– Liverpool (@LFC) July 23, 2021
Liverpool recorded a first win in pre-season action thanks to an own goal in the final against Mainz, with Luca Kilian converting Owen Beck’s cross in the 86th minute.
Klopp had included a series of first-team starters in his starting XI, which saw Harvey Elliott used in a midfield role, before a much younger lineup was introduced after half-time.
A number of the squad remain absent after their efforts at Euro 2020 and Copa America, although Scotland captain Andy Robertson has joined his teammates in Austria.
“I am happy with many situations that I have seen,” said the Liverpool manager of the match against Mainz.
“I saw in the first half some really good football where we passed, we passed, we passed the ball pretty fast, fast enough against a good and organized team, a team that defends deeply and that sort of thing. It was far from perfect, but that’s absolutely fine.
“In the second half I saw the guys, the guys, fighting for a result and they got it. They forced it and I’m happy about it. “