Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has downplayed the likelihood of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez returning from injury during the club’s pre-season tour of Austria
Klopp started new signings Ibrahimi Konate and Joel Matip in central defense against Mainz on Friday night before introducing Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio in a completely different XI following the break.
Liverpool won 1-0 as a result of an own goal late in the game.
With five minutes remaining, defender Luca Kilian diverted a cross from teenage left-back Owen Beck into his own net.
Van Dijk and Gomez have not featured for the Reds since last season and have yet to appear in any of the club’s three pre-season matches.
When asked if the pair would feature against Hertha Berlin next week, Klopp admitted to LFC TV: ‘Yeah, it would still be a surprise.
‘However, they look fantastic,’ he insisted.
Van Dijk has been sidelined since October following an anterior cruciate ligament rupture in the Merseyside derby, while Gomez has been sidelined since November following a knee injury sustained while on international duty with England.
‘We just have to be patient – we prepare for a full season, not a pre-season game,’ Klopp added. ‘I am not willing to risk it for a game here, so we shall see,’ the 54-year-old emphasized.
‘We still have a lot of pre-season games left, but I don’t see them playing in the next one.’