News Matches
Everton v Liverpool

Hasenhuttl piles on Pickford for 'absolutely disastrous tackle' on Van Dijk ahead of Everton clash

12:57 BST 24/10/2020
Jordan Pickford, Virgil van Dijk split
The Southampton manager has ensured the spotlight will be on the Toffees keeper once more when the sides meet in the Premier League on Sunday

Ralph Hasenhuttl has kept the spotlight squarely on under-fire goalkeeper Jordan Pickford ahead of Southampton’s Premier League clash with Everton on Sunday.

England No.1 Pickford has faced criticism from all angles after his challenge on Virgil van Dijk in the Merseyside derby which left the Liverpool defender possibly out for the season.

A number of Liverpool players and pundits have publicly blasted Pickford and, a week after the injury occurred, it remains a talking point.

When asked if he thought Pickford should have been sent off, Hasenhuttl told reporters: "I think yes. I also had a discussion about this. It was a horrible tackle to be honest.

"We have more often the situation now that the game goes on, although it is offside, and then some duels happen that don't have to happen normally, this is an issue.

"But we are also happy about having the VAR because now you see, in the Europa League, there is no VAR, how many discussions there are around decisions from the referee.

"But sure, you cannot go like this into a duel. This is an absolutely disastrous tackle to be honest.

"I think sure, it can be a red card in the end. When you only see the tackle, [it] was horrible, yes."

Former Everton striker Kevin Campbell criticised what he saw as a “witch hunt” over Pickford’s tackle, with Van Dijk far from the first player to find himself on the receiving end of a bad challenge.

A number of abusive tweets directed at Pickford and Toffees team-mate Richarlison were investigated by Merseyside Police after last week’s derby.

While Liverpool are understandably disappointed to be without Van Dijk, captain Jordan Henderson has backed his side’s other defenders to step up and fill the void.

Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho are the obvious choices to play at centre-back but Henderson believes the likes of Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams, Billy Koumetio and Sepp van den Berg are developing well in defence.

“Are any of them Virgil van Dijk? No... but they don’t need to be,” Henderson said in Liverpool’s matchday programme.

“They just need to be themselves and give everything they have for this club, be it in training or when called upon in games. And the rest of us have to be there to help.

“Virgil will back with us in no time at all, I’m sure. Because he is such an extraordinary professional, I know he will come back not just as good but better. He’s the sort of character who will use the time out to learn and develop. But while we wait for him, we don’t stop.”