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Liverpool defender van Dijk needs knee surgery and faces lengthy lay-off

Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk wants to return stronger after learning he needs surgery on the knee injury he sustained in the 2-2 draw at Everton.

The 29-year-old Netherlands defender was unable to continue following a rash challenge by Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford in the first half on Saturday.

It is unclear how long the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury will keep him out for.

“I’m ready for the challenge ahead,” he said in a post on social media.

The former Celtic and Southampton centre-back went for a scan before a specialist confirmed the extent of the damage.

“I’m now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as soon as possible,” said the Dutchman.

“Despite the obvious disappointment, I’m a firm believer that within difficulty lies opportunity, and with God’s help I’m going to make sure I return better, fitter and stronger than ever before.

“In football, as in life, I think everything happens for a reason and it’s important to try and keep level-headed whether going through the highs and lows.”

Returning to action after ACL surgery can take many months and Liverpool are refusing to specify how long the Dutchman will be out for until after his operation.

Surgery will not be immediate and the operation has yet to be arranged.

Club sources are reluctant to rule out a return to action this season, as much will depend on his rehabilitation.

Van Dijk has been a key figure for Liverpool since signing for them in January 2018 for £75m.

He played every league game for the club in the past two seasons as Liverpool finished second in 2018-19 before winning their first top-flight title in 30 years in 2019-20.

The Dutchman was also a leading figure for the side as they won the Champions League in 2019 and the Club World Cup later that year.

He had played seven times for the Reds this season prior to the Merseyside derby.

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