Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk feels 'blessed' after making long-awaited return

The Liverpool captain played the final 20 minutes of the 4-3 defeat in Austria

FILE - In this Sunday Jan. 14, 2018 file photo, Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk walks to the dugout prior to the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield Stadium, in Liverpool, England. Virgil van Dijk was widely trumpeted as the solution to Liverpool's defensive flimsiness when he joined for $100 million as the world's most expensive defender. Yet Liverpool hasn't kept a clean sheet in the four games Van Dijk has played in and only won one of them. (AP Photo/Dave Thompson, File)

Virgil van Dijk says he feels "blessed" for the support he has received during his long injury lay-off after making a successful return to action in Liverpool’s friendly defeat to Hertha Berlin in Austria.

The Liverpool captain played the final 20 minutes of the 4-3 defeat after coming off the bench in Innsbruck alongside fellow substitute Joe Gomez, who was also making his return following a long-term injury.

Van Dijk and Gomez were absent for most of last season due to knee injuries as Liverpool lost their Premier League crown to Manchester City.

Van Dijk said on Twitter: “285 days ago, I started on a journey back towards playing. It’s hard to express how I am feeling, but it’s important to me that I say I feel blessed to have had the support of so many incredible people.

“The surgeon, my physios, coaches and staff who have been with me in my corner since day one. My teammates for giving me energy and keeping my head up. The fans for their love, support and encouragement.

“And most of all, my family because without them, I’d be nothing. Thank you. The work doesn’t stop now. It’s only just starting. We keep going!”

The centre-half had surgery in November after damaging an anterior cruciate ligament in Liverpool’s 2-2 Premier League draw at Merseyside rivals Everton in October.

Gomez has also recovered from knee surgery, to repair a tendon, which he damaged while training for England before their friendly against the Republic of Ireland in November.

Bundesliga side Hertha led 2-0 after 31 minutes through Argentina midfielder Santiago Ascacibar and Suat Serdar’s fine finish before Liverpool hit back to restore parity at half-time.

Kostas Tsimikas crossed for Sadio Mane to convert from close range and Takumi Minamino brilliantly back-heeled the equaliser after good work from Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita.

Liverpool substitute, 16-year-old Kaide Gordon, twice went close for the Reds before Hertha regained the lead through Stevan Jovetic.

Jovetic ran clear to slide home Hertha’s fourth goal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 88th-minute volley made it 4-3.

Updated: July 30th 2021, 6:42 AM