The Netherlands defender could be out for the season but his club captain says he has still been a positive presence at Melwood
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson says Virgil van Dijk has “radiated positivity” at the club since suffering his potentially season-ending injury against Everton last week.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are looking to regroup without their star defender and started positively in midweek, with Fabinho stepping into defence and impressing in the 1-0 win away at Ajax.
Henderson accepts Liverpool face a challenge without the Dutchman, but insists his side won’t keep feeling sorry for themselves about it.
“He’s the best defender in the world. Of course he is,” Henderson wrote in Liverpool’s matchday programme.
“I think I’d go further and say he’s in the running for the best player in the world, regardless of position.
“But it’s his presence and personality that will leave a hole on matchdays and in the training sessions. As important as the fans think he is, to us as team-mates it’s even more so.
“It was typical of Virgil that after digesting the news, one of the first messages he sent to us – all of us – was upbeat and inspirational. The exact content will of course remain private, but there wasn’t one word in there feeling sorry for himself. It was all about looking ahead and making sure he comes back better and stronger.
“Likewise, when he came to Melwood on Tuesday he just radiated positivity. That’s the big man. And it’s on us to take his lead and only think about the positive impact we can all have from this moment on.”
Henderson also believes Liverpool are well-stocked when it comes to stand-ins for Van Dijk during his absence.
“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.
“Nat Phillips is nearly back to full fitness and has the making to be a very good centre-half. Rhys Williams has impressed me so much with his attitude and his 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. And the rest of us have to be there to help.”