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'That’s what Liverpool will want': Jamie Carragher makes Reds claim

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has called for patience regarding Virgil van Dijk’s fitness at the start of next season.

The Reds centre-back has been out for most of last season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

It’s been a long road back but, on Thursday, Van Dijk finally returned to action in the red shirt.

The Dutchman made a 20-minute appearance in the 4-3 friendly loss to Hertha Berlin.

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Van Dijk is likely to feature in just one of those Anfield fixtures, which would leave him short of match fitness for the Premier League opener at Norwich.

Liverpool have back-to-back matches against Bologna in Evian next Thursday before two home games against Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna.

And Carragher believes Jurgen Klopp is well aware of the need to ease Van Dijk slowly into competitive action.

Liverpool will want the 30-year-old to be the best defender in the world over the next five or six years, not weeks, added Carragher.

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“I think we have to be careful and I think Jurgen Klopp will be,” Carragher, speaking at a Soccer Aid event, told the PA news agency, via The Independent.

“I don’t think we should expect that Virgil van Dijk comes back into Liverpool and Liverpool are going to automatically win the league again this season.

“He’s had a really serious injury and he’s got to make sure he is not rushed back.”

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“100 percent right”

“If he’s back to his best he is the best central defender in world football and that’s what Liverpool will want over the next five or six years, not the next five or six weeks.

“If he doesn’t make the first game of the season it’s not the end of the world, it is about making sure Virgil van Dijk is 100 percent right.

“So he’s in a position where he can have the next five or six years at Liverpool at a top level.

“It may be a gentle start with Virgil until we see him when he is 100 percent right, but if that could be on that first game of the season and he can play the next few games I think everyone would be delighted.”

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Liverpool signed Van Dijk and the rest is history

Van Dijk has been so good for Liverpool over the past few years that he made his £75million transfer fee seem like a bargain.

It didn’t take long for Van Dijk to make his mark following his arrival from Southampton in 2017, turning a shaky Reds defence into a solid unit en route to trophy glory.

Since the Netherlands international joined Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp’s charges have won the Champions League, the Premier League and the Club World Cup.

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