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Premier League referee Oliver admits Pickford should have been punished for Van Dijk injury

11:05 GMT 10/01/2021
Jordan Pickford Virgil Van Dijk 2020
The man who officiated the derby clash earlier this season has conceded that he should have sent off the Everton goalkeeper

Premier League referee Michael Oliver has admitted that Jordan Pickford should have been punished for injuring Virgil van Dijk.

Van Dijk has been out of action since suffering cruciate knee ligament damage during Liverpool's 2-2 draw with Everton at Goodison Park on October 17.

The Dutchman was the victim of a reckless flying tackle from Pickford, but Oliver took no action against the Toffees goalkeeper after VAR ruled that there had been an offside in the buildup to the incident.

The match official has now conceded that he was wrong for failing to show Pickford a red card, having been too preoccupied with trying to decide whether or not to give a penalty to properly assess the nature of his challenge.

“It was a big game. Both teams were flying. The assistant has given offside and there is the delay in the flag, as we have had this season. Jordan then comes out to Virgil," Oliver told the Daily Mail.

“The thought initially was, ‘It can’t be a penalty because it’s offside so we need to check the offside first’.

“I think I said to the VAR, ‘If it’s not offside, I’m going to give a penalty’.

“I have watched it back so many times. I genuinely don’t think Pickford has done anything apart from try to spread himself but he did it the wrong way, as the injury has shown.

“We have all, myself included, not thought about the challenge as much as we should have done. We could still have given offside and sent Pickford off.

“What I was surprised about looking at it afterwards was that nothing was expected on-field in terms of a red card. None of the players were asking for that.

“We got sucked too much into going step by step as opposed to thinking of the bigger process, which was considering the challenge as well and not just the fact it can’t be a penalty.

“We should have restarted wth the offside, as we did, but with a different punishment for Jordan Pickford.”

Van Dijk returned to training in the gym last month, but Jurgen Klopp revealed before Liverpool's defeat at Southampton on January 4 that the centre-back still has a "long way to go" with his recovery.

The Reds boss told reporters: "It's very good but still a long way to go, that's [the deal with] this kind of injury. I'm happy when I see these videos [of Virgil training] because it just shows he makes good progress. But it will still take a lot of time, that's how it is. 

"I'd like to say something else but these are the facts unfortunately."