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Liverpool must handle defender's return to team - Jimmy Carragher

Sat 31 July 2021 | 13:07

Jimmy Carragher believes that expectations must be managed when it comes to the return of Virgil van Dijk to Jürgen Klopp's team.

Van Dijk

returned to action with a 20-minute appearance against

Hertha Berlin

on Thursday after being sidelined for nine months with a knee injury.

"

I think we have to be careful and I think Jurgen Klopp will be,

" Carragher said.

"I don't think we should expect that Virgil van Dijk comes back into Liverpool and Liverpool are going to automatically win the league again this season.

"He's had a really serious injury and he's got to make sure he is not rushed back.

"If he's back to his best he is the best central defender in world football and that's what Liverpool will want over the next five or six years, not the next five or six weeks.

"If he doesn't make the first game of the season it's not the end of the world, it is about making sure Virgil van Dijk is 100 per cent right so he's in a position where he can have the next five or six years at Liverpool at a top level.

"It may be a gentle start with Virgil until we see him when he is 100 per cent right, but if that could be on that first game of the season and he can play the next few games I think everyone would be delighted."

After several injuries last season, especially in defence, Liverpool recruited

Ibrahima Konate

from RB Leipzig, but the 22-year-old needed time to get used to English football.

"

I don't really envy Jurgen Klopp picking that centre-back partnership for the first game,

" added Carragher.

"Right now, if everyone is at their absolute best, the partnership has always been Gomez and Van Dijk, but I think it is going to be difficult for them to be at their absolute best as both have had serious, long-term injuries.

"Whether Konate can break that one up... and Matip always comes in and does a very good job.

"It's a difficult one to answer as I don't think all the centre-backs will be 100 per cent fit and firing, they'll need to get confidence and games, get that belief back."

Sources at the club have said that there may be no further signing and the focus is on extending the contracts of current players. However,

Carragher

is interested in strengthening the team in two areas.

"

I think in terms of numbers it's not a problem, I think it is in terms of quality,

" he said.

"If we didn't bring in another addition it may be difficult to knock Man City off the top, and let's not forget Chelsea, the European champions, and Manchester United, who have had a great window with (Raphael) Varane and (Jadon) Sancho.

"I'd like to see someone who could get goals, whether that's from midfield or part of the front three.

"I am just wary a little bit with Liverpool, after last season going into this season, as to whether there are enough goals in the team for them to go and win the title.

"But I am expecting a big season from (Sadio) Mane. He didn't have his best season but he's looking really sharp in pre-season, hopefully he can be the guy who can plug that gap in terms of goals."

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