Jordan Henderson says it is the responsibility of the whole squad to ensure Virgil van Dijk returns to a Liverpool team challenging once again for major honours.
The Reds were dealt a huge blow when it was confirmed their towering centre-back requires surgery on damaged knee ligaments sustained after an ugly challenge from Jordan Pickford in the 2-2 draw against Everton on Saturday.
Van Dijk is expected to miss the majority of the rest of the campaign and potentially may not play again this season.
Liverpool have won the Champions League, Club World Cup and Premier League over the past two seasons and captain Henderson told his team-mates that culture of competing for big honours must continue in the absence of Van Dijk.
“That’s down to us as players to make sure that when he is back and he is fit that we’re still fighting to be successful and fighting for trophies,” Henderson told Liverpool’s official website.
“You’ve got to use times like this to be stronger and to be even more together than we already are. And use it as a positive in some way – I know it sounds ridiculous at the moment, but that’s what you need to try to do.
“We need to try to look forward and try to help us in the next however many months Virgil will be out for.
“And also stick by him and be there for him whenever he needs us. But he’s a strong character, he’s strong mentally and he certainly will be back stronger and hopefully it’s not too long.”
“You don’t need it but you have to get over it and Virgil will get over it, 100 per cent, and today is already the first day.”
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) October 19, 2020
The absence of the Dutchman is sure to be keenly felt by the champions, particularly in the immediate term with goalkeeper Alisson still out of action.
Under Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool have played 70 league games with Alisson and Van Dijk in the starting line-up, winning 56, drawing 10 and losing four, giving them a win rate of 80 per cent.
By contrast, in 92 games led by the German without those two involved, Liverpool have won 49 times, drawn 27 and lost 16, their win rate dropping to 53.3 per cent and their points per game slipping to 1.9 from 2.5.
Without Alisson and Van Dijk, Liverpool have conceded 110 goals – 1.2 per game – compared to just 51, or 0.7 per game, when they have played.
Henderson said in his role as skipper he will be there to help Van Dijk through the difficult times.
“It’s a tough one. It’s a big blow for us. For him personally, obviously. But for us as a team, a massive blow,” he added.
“I’m just gutted for him. So, it’s been a tough couple of days, I spoke to him yesterday. And yeah, it’s a difficult moment, but that’s when you need to be there for each other.
“I’ll be there as much as I possibly can for him, I’m sure the lads will do the same and his family certainly will, to help him through the journey he’ll go on.”
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