Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has claimed that his side’s current injury problems are worse than Liverpool losing Virgil van Dijk.
Wilder says, in relative terms, his side having John Fleck, Jack O’Connell and Lys Mousset out injured is more of a blow than Van Dijk being absent for Liverpool is.
Liverpool face Sheffield United in the Premier League this weekend but will be without Van Dijk, who is set to undergo surgery on an ACL injury and could be out for the rest of the 2020/21 campaign.
As quoted by the Liverpool Echo, Wilder gave an update on his club’s fitness situation and compared it to Liverpool’s issues. “It’s all relative.
“Us losing Fleck, Jack O’Connell and Lys is, I’d say, a bigger loss than losing van Dijk, relatively.
“All clubs go through these periods and situations.
“They still have world-class players and an academy that produces players all the time.
“And those three at the top of the pitch (Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino) can hurt anyone.”
ANFIELD WATCH VERDICT
In terms of pure numbers, Wilder is right in that losing three players to injury is a bigger concern for him than Liverpool losing Van Dijk is. However, the immense quality that is being taken out of Liverpool’s team with Van Dijk’s injury cannot be underestimated.
He has proven himself to be one of the best centre-backs in world football in recent seasons, being named in PFA Team of the Year for the previous two seasons along with winning PFA Player of the Year in the 2018/19 campaign. This shows just how impressive he has been at centre-back for Liverpool and how big of a loss he could be at the heart of Jurgen Klopp’s defence in the coming months.
Of course, it is impossible to predict the exact toll the injuries will take on each team until kick-off this weekend. It will be interesting to see how both teams adapt and the team selections that Wilder and Klopp will make, with the 90 minutes, perhaps, providing an insight into life without Van Dijk for Liverpool in the Premier League.