Van Dijk: “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”

Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender set to undergo knee surgery after Everton injury

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk goes off injured during the Premier League match at Goodison Park

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is set to undergo knee surgery after suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage in the Merseyside derby.

Van Dijk suffered the injury after colliding with Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the early stages of Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park.

Pickford was saved from conceding a penalty – and possibly a red card – by a marginal VAR decision, which ruled Van Dijk’s shoulder was offside in the build-up to the collision.

The England goalkeeper could still have been sent off if VAR had recommended on-field referee Michael Oliver look at the incident again as players can be punished for serious foul play or violent conduct after the whistle is blown.

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Van Dijk had to be substituted and was later sent for a scan, which revealed he would require surgery.

No time frame has been put on his return but club sources are reluctant to rule out a return this season.

Van Dijk released a statement on Sunday night, taking to social media to say: “This afternoon, I met with a leading consultant to start the process of planning the finer details of my rehabilitation following the incident yesterday. I’m now fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible.

“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 believe everything happens for a reason and it’s important to try and keep level-headed whether going through the highs or the lows. With the support of my wife, kids and family and everyone at Liverpool, I’m ready for the challenge ahead.

FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Everton’s draw with Liverpool

“I’d like to thank everyone for the messages of support. It’s meant a huge amount to me and my family, and I’ll now be doing everything possible to support my team-mates in any way I can ahead of a big few weeks as I take my own recovery day by day. I’ll be back.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp questioned why no action was taken against Pickford for his challenge on the Netherlands defender.

“For me it was a clear penalty that I saw. Then obviously we saw the flag went up, so offside. I still thought it was worth a look on the foul but that didn’t happen,” said Klopp.

Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender set to undergo knee surgery after Everton injury

Van Dijk was injured in this collision with Jordan Pickford

“We have no power there, we just sit here and you discuss it with me. You have to ask other people about that, not me. What can I say?”

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara was also sent to hospital for a scan after the match after being injured by a tackle from Richarlison, which resulted in the Brazil forward being shown a straight red card late on.

The Spain international is thought to have suffered an impact injury but indications are that it is not serious.

Carra: Van Dijk injury blows title race wide open

Jamie Carragher reflects on the injury news of Virgil van Dijk and believes that his absence for Liverpool will blow the title race wide open

Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher:

“The big question you’re looking at now is, can Liverpool win the league without Van Dijk there? I think it blows the title race wide open, I really do.

“I still felt at the start of this season Liverpool were the team to beat. I think with Van Dijk being out for what looks like the whole season now, I think it’s going to be all on for Liverpool.

“I think Liverpool certainly have to go into the market in January, and not just because of Van Dijk’s injury, but Liverpool were weak in that area anyway. They lost (Dejan) Lovren before the start of the season now the other players in those positions are very injury prone.”

Read more from Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness on the impact of Van Dijk’s injury here.

Analysis: Van Dijk blow leaves Liverpool stepping into the unknown

Sky Sports’ Peter Smith:

‘The brilliant Dutchman has played in 95 of the 96 Premier League games Liverpool have had since he made his debut in January 2018. He played every minute in the league last season, as they claimed the title for the first time in 30 years.

‘So how do they try to cover the absence of a player who has been central to their triumphs domestically and in Europe over the past three years?

‘It is a huge task and, with Premier League and Champions League games coming thick and fast, it is a task Jurgen Klopp must get right if Liverpool are to continue to be successful. That is how pivotal Van Dijk has been.’

Liverpool ask for VAR decisions investigation

Meanwhile, Liverpool are understood to have asked the Premier League to investigate the application of VAR during the match, with Jordan Henderson’s stoppage-time strike also ruled out for a borderline offside against Sadio Mane.

“I came into the dressing room and there were people standing there saying they’d watched the [VAR disallowed goal] situation back and they were saying they didn’t understand why they whistled offside,” added Klopp, in his post-match comments.

“I’m really in support of VAR and especially with offside you expect that the right decision would be made. We scored a goal one time at Aston Villa and they said the armpit was offside! It sounds funny, but we got it.

“This time, the picture I saw once was that there wasn’t an armpit call, it was just offside. Since then, I’ve had about 10 interviews and everybody tells me that it was not offside and this doesn’t lift my mood, obviously.

“It’s tricky, but we’ve lost one player in a situation where VAR was not involved [Pickford on Van Dijk] and maybe another one in the red card situation, and we’ve scored a legitimate goal which didn’t count. It was obviously not our day but it was the performance I wanted to see.”

Richarlison released a statement after the match, apologising to Thiago for the tackle which led to his red card.

Virgil van Dijk: Liverpool defender set to undergo knee surgery after Everton injury

Richarlison issued a public apology to Thiago after the match, after being sent off for a challenge on the midfielder

“Everyone who knows me knows I’ve never been a violent player,” said the 23-year-old, who is now set to miss Everton’s upcoming games against Southampton, Newcastle and Manchester United.

“What happened today was simply an accident caused by pure dedication. I didn’t go into that tackle with the intention of injuring Thiago. When I saw there was going to be a collision, I withdrew my foot and struck his knee, which was inevitable given the speed involved.

“I’ve already sent him a message apologising and I’m also doing so publicly here. I hope he hasn’t sustained an injury and everything is OK.

“I also apologise to my team-mates, my club and the fans for leaving the team a man down at the end of the game. Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do to change what happened, except reflect, work hard and move on.”