Van Dijk fitness boost for Liverpool as Matip expects centre-half partner to face Southampton

Joel Matip Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2018-19
The Dutch defender picked up a slight knock during a dramatic victory over Tottenham, but he is expected to line up against his former club

Virgil van Dijk “will be fit” to line up for Liverpool against former club Southampton, says Joel Matip, with the commanding defender suffering only a minor knock against Tottenham.

Jurgen Klopp caused some alarm for Reds supporters on Sunday when he revealed that the Netherlands international required an ice pack on his ankle after picking up a knock in a dramatic 2-1 win over Tottenham.

With the games coming thick and fast, and the next test against the Saints arriving on Friday, fears were raised as to Van Dijk’s ability to be 100 per cent at St Mary’s.

Matip has sought to calm those concerns, with the 27-year-old confident that his centre-half partner will be ready to play another leading role in the pursuit of more precious points in an ongoing Premier League title bid.

He told Sky Sports of an injury picked up by a talismanic team-mate: “I think he is not too bad.

“After the game, a few players always have some small injuries but I've heard nothing else, so I think he will be fit.”

Van Dijk has been a dominant figure in a Liverpool side that has conceded just 19 goals this season, but Matip insists an improved defensive record is the result of a collective effort, not one man.

He added: “We have all made it quite good.

“Virgil has had a big impact on the whole defence but it starts at the front, we put pressure on the opponent. It makes life easier for us.

“The whole team is defending much better.”

Trent Alexander-Arnold Liverpool 2018-19

Solid foundations have allowed Liverpool to remain in the hunt for a first top-flight title in 29 years, with there now just six games left for them to take in.

A battle with reigning champions Manchester City appears set to go down to the wire, with Matip expecting more twists and turns in a frantic finish.

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“I think it will be hard for both teams to play these kinds of games without dropping points,” he said.

“But we are only looking to our next opponent. That is the most important thing.”

Liverpool could find themselves back in second spot by the time they take to the field against Southampton, with City due to play host to relegation-threatened Cardiff on Wednesday.