• News

Klopp defends his decision to bench Van Dijk in Champions League opener

Virgil van Dijk - Liverpool
Getty Images

Although they refused to settle for anything less than a win, the Reds did have some trouble keeping Milan at without their commanding center-back.

Jurgen Klopp has defended his decision to leave Virgil van Dijk on the bench in their Champions League encounter with AC Milan.

Van Dijk’s absence was felt against Milan as Liverpool conceded twice in the final five minutes of the first half to turn the game on its head.

The hosts, though, returned after the break ready to respond as they level matters quickly before eventually snatching the winner in the five-goal thriller at Anfield.

Van Dijk suffered a serious anterior cruciate ligament injury early in 2020-21 that had sent him for a 10 month-spell on the sidelines. He has made into the starting XI in all four of the new Premier League campaign, but Klopp “wants to be sensible” regarding the player’s workload.

“I would rather say it’s a short-term thing,” the Reds manager explained holding back his star center-back on Wednesday. (via BT Sport).

“We are still in the extended pre-season if you want, especially for him having had a long time out.

“He was completely fine. He could have played, definitely, but I want to be sensible in these moments now because I have to be.

“For the Milan game it worked really well but it will not be like that I now always do exactly that and say Virgil is not ready to play in a game but we are early in the season and it was the right thing to do.”