Liverpool set to be without Virgil van Dijk after ‘harsh diagnosis’ on hamstring injury

Liverpool have suffered the “big blow” of losing Virgil van Dijk for more than a month after Jurgen Klopp said the centre-back got “a harsh diagnosis” when he saw a specialist about his hamstring injury.

Van Dijk is set to miss the Premier League clash with Chelsea and could be a doubt for next month’s Merseyside derby while Liverpool will hope to have the defender available again for a four-day spell in February when they face Newcastle and Real Madrid.

Klopp had only substituted Van Dijk at half-time in Monday’s 3-1 defeat to Brentford as a precautionary measure and said: “Virg is a surprise. It was a big blow, he didn’t feel a lot. He never had an issue with muscles, never mentioned everything. It was one sprint too much in that moment. I took him off and maybe he would have tried [to carry on].

“The diagnosis is pretty harsh: we talk about weeks, more than a month, that is how it is hard. For Virg it is hard but he played an incredible amount of games over the last years. We cannot use him on the pitch but off the pitch we will.”

Klopp is poised to give Cody Gakpo his debut in Liverpool’s FA Cup tie against Wolves on Saturday.

The Netherlands winger joined for an initial £37 million from PSV Eindhoven and Klopp has been excited by seeing Gakpo in the flesh.

He added: “Cody is in for two training days and it is a joy to watch. It is really nice to have a guy on the pitch who is pretty natural on the offensive side of things and knows where the goal is. He is full of joy. He is good footballer, good in small spaces, likes to finish from distance and a good dribbler as well. When you sign a player you watch a lot of stuff and in the end it is nice to see them live in front of you.”

Klopp said Liverpool “had no doubts” about signing Gakpo and revealed the forward never asked about the possibility they might not qualify for the Champions League this season.

He said: “What we can give to the players is the size of the club but inside we are really, really close together. Virgil probably told him that. I really like the fact he decided pretty quickly: ‘That is the right club for me.’”

Klopp has vowed to pick the best possible side he can as Liverpool start their defence of the FA Cup. Captain Jordan Henderson is available again after concussion and the manager said: “We will line up as good and strong and experienced as we can.”

Liverpool will still be without several injured players, including Roberto Firmino, Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Arthur Melo.