Liverpool warned Van Dijk may not be same player when he returns from injury

Liverpool have been warned Virgil van Dijk may not be at the same level when he returns from his long-term knee injury.

The Dutchman is facing several months on the sidelines after suffering a potentially season-ending issue during the Merseyside derby.

Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford clattered into Van Dijk, but controversially escaped punishment after the former Southampton defender was adjudged to have been in an offside position by VAR.

Van Dijk will undergo surgery on the ACL problem, and it remains to be seen whether he will feature again before the end of the campaign.

Former England winger Trevor Sinclair doubts that will be the case, and has cast doubt Van Dijk will be able to hit the same standards whenever he returns to the pitch.

"If it was an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and without any impact, this injury happens quite a lot, where there is no-one around the player and he twists and all of a sudden he has done his ACL, then that's fine," he told talkSPORT.

"You can say he might be back in seven months and might be a similar player.

"When it's an impact injury, which this was, you're talking the ACL, which potentially could have damaged his PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) and could mean the tibia and the fibia banged together.

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"If it is any of them, and not just the ACL, then this could be a lot longer for Virgil van Dijk to come back I would doubt that we are going to see the same level of Virgil van Dijk when he comes back."

Van Dijk's teammate for club and country Gini Wijnaldum says Liverpool are still "devastated" by the injury, and labelled Pickford's challenge "stupid".

"The way it happened is really hard for us and I think everyone really had a bad feeling about it," he said. “The way Pickford went in on the challenge was, in my opinion, completely stupid.

“I believe he did not want to injure Virgil, but he did not care about what happened after the tackle.

“I think we have had this in a lot of games against Everton, in my opinion. They take it way too far in the games we play against them."

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