Liverpool hit by latest hammer blow in Premier League top-four race

Virgil van Dijk injury news as the Liverpool defender gets set for a spell on the sidelines.

Liverpool have been handed their latest injury blow as Virgil van Dijk prepares for a spell on the sidelines.

The centre-back was withdrawn at half-time in Monday's humbling 3-1 loss to Brentford. Van Dijk had a tough opening 45 minutes and was replaced by Joel Matip.

Manager Jurgen Klopp has previously been hopeful the Holland international's hamstring problem wasn't too serious.

After the Brentford game, Klopp said: “Virgil felt a little bit his muscle, but he said he’s fine and he’s a very good judge of these things.

“I didn’t want to take any risk. The physios looked quite happy when I said I didn’t want to take a risk. It’s not an injury, he just felt the intensity.”

But van Dijk's complaint is worse than first feared and he was due to see a specialist yesterday. No return date has been given, although van Dijk is set to miss this weekend’s FA Cup clash against Wolves. He’s also doubtful for the trip to Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday 14 January.

It's a blow to Liverpool and their ambitions of finishing in the Premier League top four this season. The Reds sit sixth in the table and are seven points outside of the Champions League spots.

Ibrahima Konate, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Nat Phillips are Klopp’s other options in central defence.

Liverpool already have key duo Diogo Jota (calf) and Luis Diaz (knee) unavailable for the long term. Jota is expected to miss the rest of January, while Diaz looks like he won't return until March.

Klopp has also been without Roberto Firmino for the four games since the campaign restarted for the World Cup.

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