Virgil Van Dijk’s Euro 2020 absence ‘unfortunate’ says Holland boss

Holland boss Frank de Boer has said that he respects the decision of Virgil van Dijk to rule himself out of his country’s Euro 2020 campaign. The Liverpool defender has missed most of the season with an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Van Dijk suffered the serious knee injury during October’s Merseyside derby against Everton when goalkeeper Jordan Pickford caught the Dutchman high on his leg.

The defender required surgery and has not featured for the Reds since.

It was an incident that sparked outrage among Liverpool fans who were angered by the lack of punishment for Pickford’s challenge inside the box. Neither referee Michael Oliver nor VAR awarded a penalty or even a card.

Van Dijk had made just eight appearances this term before the injury. His absence has been part of a defensive injury crisis that has been key to a poor title defence by Jurgen Klopp’s side.

And last week, he also ruled himself out of Euro 2020 in an interview with the club’s in-house media team.

De Boer’s side have a favourable group including Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia.

They also face Scotland and Georgia in warm-up friendlies.

“I am especially sorry for him because he is our captain and has never seen a final tournament,” De Boer, the former Crystal Palace head coach, told Dutch outlet NU.NL.

“We had already taken it into account and in the end, he had to make his own decision. We have to respect this decision.

“It is hoped that he will have more tournaments to play, starting with the World Cup in Qatar, if we qualify for it.

“I spoke to Virgil himself and he is just realistic. It is very unfortunate for us.

Liverpool’s top-four chances rely on the form of Chelsea and Leicester City, who sit fourth and third in the Premier League respectively. A late resurgence in form has boosted the Reds’ hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League with three matches remaining.

A 4-2 win against Manchester United on Thursday leaves them only four points behind Chelsea with a game in hand.

Van Dijk expects to be ready for the beginning of pre-season. He also hopes to help Holland qualify for the 2022 World Cup, which takes place in Qatar next year, after ruling himself out of what would have been his maiden major international tournament.

“It’s been a very, very long road. I had to take it step by step. Things have been going well, I’ve not had a real setback or anything – I’ve just progressed nicely,” the 29-year-old told liverpoolfc.com.

“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.

“The full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that’s a realistic goal. I am gutted to miss the Euros and leading out my own country there, but things have been like they have and I have to accept it. It’s tough, but I’m at peace with it.

“I am looking forward to football hopefully with fans, and with Holland we will try to reach the next tournament and hopefully I can lead the boys there for a historical tournament. But we’re not there yet. It’s going to be a very, very hard but hopefully promising 18 months for club and country.”

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