Van Dijk rules himself out of Euro 2020

Agence France-Presse . London | Published: 00:09, May 13,2021

 
 

A file photo of Virgil van Dijk.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk on Wednesday ruled himself out of the Netherlands squad for Euro 2020 to focus on being fit for the start of the next Premier League season.

The influential centre-back, who captains his national side, has been out of action for seven months after undergoing surgery on a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee.

He admitted he had been in a ‘bad place’ at the start of his recovery but said he now felt more positive after returning to light running.

‘I've just progressed nicely,’ he told Liverpool's website. ‘In this latest stage for myself, I have come to a decision that I had to make -- would I be involved in the Euros, yes or no?

‘With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I've decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season.

‘So the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that's a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that.’

Van Dijk, 29, said he was ‘gutted’ to be missing the delayed European Championship, which starts next month, but was at peace with his decision.

‘The surgeon is very happy with everything that is going on and, as I said, the good thing is I've not really had a setback so far and hopefully that will not happen,’ he added.

The Netherlands' failure to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup means Van Dijk will be 31 before he can make his major tournament debut, providing they qualify for the World Cup finals in Qatar next year.

‘I think this decision has definitely been the right one, in my opinion, to give my body and my knee a little bit more extra time to get ready for hopefully a big, big 18 months at least with the club but also with my country because we're trying to go to the next tournament after this as well and that starts in September,’ he said.

He added: ‘Obviously I want to be back out there, I want to be helping my team-mates, helping my country in this case and I obviously want to help the club, but I think it's the right thing to do to stay a little bit more patient and work even harder during the off-season and get ready.’

Van Dijk has not played for Liverpool since suffering knee damage in an ugly challenge from Everton keeper Jordan Pickford during a 2-2 Premier League draw in October.

His absence, plus long-term injuries to fellow senior Liverpool centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip, helped derail the club's title defence, leaving them facing an uphill battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp's men are sixth in the Premier League, seven points behind fourth-placed Chelsea and have just four games left to play.

The Dutch begin their Euro 2020 campaign on June 13 against Ukraine followed by matches with Austria and North Macedonia, all to be played in Amsterdam.

 

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