(Reuters) - Liverpool have the quality in their squad to deal with the absence through injury of influential centre back Virgil van Dijk, said skipper Jordan Henderson said.
Defender Van Dijk damaged knee ligaments after a tackle by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park last Saturday.
Writing in Liverpool’s matchday programme for Saturday’s Premier League game against Sheffield United, Henderson said any team in the world would miss the Dutchman but the champions must not make it a bigger issue than it needs to be.
“I look at the players we have who can play that position and I wouldn’t swap them for anyone else. Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho are international-quality players who have produced for us as a team time and time again,” Henderson wrote.
“Nat Phillips is nearly back to full fitness and has the making to be a good centre half. Rhys Williams has impressed me with his attitude and mentality. Billy Koumetio and Sepp van den Berg likewise. All learning in the best environment there is.
“Are any of them Virgil van Dijk? No... but they don’t need to be. They just need to be themselves and give everything they have for this club, be it in training or when called upon in games. The rest of us have to be there to help.”
Reports in the British media have said Van Dijk could be out for up to seven months, but Henderson was more hopeful.
“Virgil will back with us in no time at all. Because he’s such an extraordinary professional I know he’ll come back not just as good but better,” Henderson added.
“When he came to Melwood on Tuesday, he just radiated positivity. And it’s on us to take his lead and only think about the positive impact we can have.”
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.