'You have to sacrifice' - Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk blames 'too many games' for six-week injury layoff
- Van Dijk suffered a hamstring injury
- Struggling to get back to his best after his return
- Admits should have rested after World Cup
WHAT HAPPENED? The centre-back suffered a hamstring injury on January 2 in a 3-1 defeat at Brentford which kept him out of action for more than a month. He is gradually getting back to his best form and also opened the scoring in Liverpool's 2-0 win over Wolves, which should boost his confidence before hosting Manchester United over the weekend.
However, the defender believes Liverpool's long season in 2021-22 - in which they played in every possible game - and the World Cup have taken their toll on him following a serious knee injury in 2020.
WHAT THEY SAID: "Coming back from the knee injury, I played all the Premier League games, I think, because everybody wants to be out there – I want to be out there. What caught up is that I played too many games at a time. When it's game day I want to play. I'll do everything possible to play. But I could have also thought before the World Cup: 'Let's rest a little bit in order to be ready'. But I didn't because I want to play and I want to be influential for this football club because I love this club," he said to The Times.
"I work each and every day to be successful for this club. But it caught up with me unfortunately, my body, I'm not a robot, and I think going into the World Cup, having the World Cup, and then doing nothing for a week and coming back it was maybe not the right decision," the defender added.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Van Dijk admitted that the six-week break has been a blessing in disguise as it provided him with the opportunity to reflect and get ready for the business end of the season. "I would say that everything that happened, happened for a reason," he added. "This six weeks was a good chance for me to reflect. But also it let my knee settle a little bit and get ready for the rest of the season. It was a tough six weeks to watch because you want to help the team and especially with a hamstring injury you have to be very patient. Patience is not in my vocabulary, it's not in my system, but I had to."
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WHAT NEXT FOR VAN DIJK? The Netherlands international will hope to keep a third successive clean sheet when Liverpool host Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday.