Virgil van Dijk’s route to fitness revealed as Dutchman trains outside at Kirkby

Virgil van Dijk’s rehabilitation from an ACL injury is well underway and after he trained at Kirkby for the first time this week, Liverpool are confident that his return to fitness will be uncomplicated.

Anfield Central exclusively reported that the Dutchman would return to individual outdoor training on Wednesday and we’ve now been told that his rehab over the next few weeks will involve a few different aspects.

The overwhelmingly good news is that there have been zero major setbacks even if van Dijk’s physio has been far from pain-free. ACL recovery, especially among footballers, is one of the most challenging prospects for modern sports science.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 24: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on February 24, 2021 in Kirkby, England. (PHOTO BY ANDREW POWELL/LIVERPOOL FC VIA GETTY IMAGES

Van Dijk is by no means ahead of schedule and, in fact, Liverpool are prepared to slow down his return to full team training and indeed the starting lineup if they feel it means his chance of re-injury is reduced.

Over the next three weeks, Liverpool’s approach to rehabbing van Dijk’s right knee will involve more strength work in the gym with an emphasis now turning to increasing his volume to get the ligaments and muscles more accustomed to dealing with stress after a lengthy layoff.

This will involve increased reps/sets while his outdoor work will see the focus geared towards mobility and exercises aimed at mimicking match/training scenarios.

He began low impact drills with footballs this week while next week he will do work on the grass involving jumping and headering the ball with close supervision of his physio to keep a close eye on his knee.

van dijk
KIRKBY, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 24: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on February 24, 2021 in Kirkby, England. PHOTO BY ANDREW POWELL/LIVERPOOL FC VIA GETTY IMAGES.

The main concern Liverpool’s doctors have regarding his eventual return to the pitch is whether he will have the same agility. This would affect his ability to turn and chase down fast forwards which has been identified over the last two seasons as one of his greatest strengths.

Despite standing at a colossal 1.93m, he has never struggled against forwards with insane pace like Kylian Mbappe, Adama Traore or Raheem Sterling. This coupled with his status as the world’s best aerial defender means that it was no surprise to see him finish second in the 2019 Balon d’Or voting – second only to Lionel Messi.

The next two months will be vital in van Dijk’s recovery and while it would be great to see him get some minutes under his belt before the end of the season, it would be prudent for Liverpool to keep him covered in bubble wrap, so to speak.

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Michael Mongie
Football Central Media Group founder, owner and editor.

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