Virgil van Dijk’s return can fire Liverpool back to the top four, claims Roy Hodgson


Virgil van Dijk recently returned from a hamstring injury (Photo: Getty)

Roy Hodgson says the return of Virgil van Dijk will have a ‘massive difference’ on Liverpool’s chances of finishing in the Premier League top four.

Liverpool are enduring their worst season under Jurgen Klopp having been knocked out of both domestic cups while their Champions League hopes hang by a thread after Tuesday night’s 5-2 home defeat to Real Madrid.

Moreover, they face a huge battle to finish in the top four with the Reds currently eighth in the table, seven points off the UCL spots, though they have two games in hand over fourth-placed Tottenham.

But with Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United looking very likely to lock out the top three, the competition for the final qualification spot is very strong, with Spurs, Newcastle, Fulham, Brighton, Liverpool, Brentford and Chelsea all vying for it.

Given Liverpool’s mixed form and injury struggles, there is a good chance they won’t be playing Champions League football for the first time since 2016.

But former Reds manager Hodgson believes they are very much capable of mounting a late charge before the end of the season and name dropped Van Dijk as the player who will help them get there.

‘I wouldn’t count Liverpool out of the top four race, they just need to get on a good run,’ the ex-England boss told William Hill.

Fulham FC v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League

Roy Hodgson managed Liverpool from 2010 to 2011 (Photo: Getty)

‘They have the quality of squad, the quality of coaching and good management that they need to get them those types of good runs. It could be very, very exciting at the end of the season. There will be a few teams fighting for the Champions League places.

‘A simple thing like Virgil van Dijk coming back from injury will have a massive difference for Liverpool. There has been a lot of injuries with Liverpool this season, which has contributed to their struggles.

‘Football is always going to be defined by the moment in time, it will be what situation you find yourself in and sometimes you find yourself in a situation through no real fault of your own.

Liverpool take on Crystal Palace on Saturday (Photo: Getty)

‘It can be purely circumstantial, as simple as losing key players at critical moments. One or two results then go against you and then all of a sudden, it’s very easy to lose faith in what you’re doing. 

‘The players then have to be strong to get through those periods because there will be criticisms and those criticisms won’t always be fair, but you can’t get caught up in them.

‘When you’re having a bit of bad luck, you have to be strong and get through it, and that’s why I think Liverpool will do well. They have that strength in the squad, the coaching staff and in the management and the size and support at the club with a lot of experienced players.’

Van Dijk recently returned to action following a hamstring injury but his performance against Real Madrid received much criticism.

Up next for Liverpool is a trip to one of Hodgson’s other former teams Crystal Palace on Saturday night.

MORE : Pep Guardiola compared to Phil Brown after bizarre on-pitch huddle after Manchester City’s Champions League draw

MORE : Paul Merson suggests Graham Potter will be sacked if Chelsea lose to Tottenham

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