Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk rules himself out of Netherlands squad for Euro 2020
Centre-back 'gutted' to miss finals but wants to focus on being fit for start of next season
Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk has ruled himself out of this summer's Euro 2020 in order to concentrate on being fit for next season.
The Liverpool centre-back has been out for seven months after undergoing surgery on ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee and, although he has returned to light running, he does not believe the time is right to push to play for the Netherlands this summer.
Van Dijk, 29, had surgery in October after a challenge by Everton and England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during a Premier League game at Goodison Park.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said in March that he felt it would be "unlikely" that the Dutch captain would be fit in time for the finals, rearranged from last summer due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I've just progressed nicely. In this latest stage for myself, I have come to a decision that I had to make: would I be involved in the Euros, yes or no?," he told liverpoolfc.com on Wednesday.
"With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I've decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season.
"So the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that's a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that.
"Obviously I am very gutted to miss the Euros and leading out my own country there, but things have been like they have and I have to accept it – we all have to accept it.
"I think the decision to not go is the right decision in the grand scheme of things. It's tough, but I'm at peace with it."
Van Dijk admits it was a difficult decision to make but he knew, that with his rehabilitation going so well, there was no point in risking a major setback by rushing back just to play this summer when he knows a World Cup qualification campaign is just around the corner.
"I am very gutted to not be going to the Euros, but it is the right decision for this time and hopefully for the future as well," he added.
"The surgeon is very happy with everything that is going on and, as I said, the good thing is I've not really had a setback so far and hopefully that will not happen.
"I think this decision has definitely been the right one, in my opinion, to give my body and my knee a little bit more extra time to get ready for hopefully a big, big 18 months, at least with the club but also with my country because we're trying to go to the next tournament after this as well and that starts in September.
"Obviously I want to be back out there, I want to be helping my teammates, helping my country in this case and I obviously want to help the club, but I think it's the right thing to do to stay a little bit more patient and work even harder during the off-season and get ready."
Netherlands are in Group C at the Euros along with Ukraine, Austria, North Macedonia, and are scheduled to play their three group games in Amsterdam.
Published: May 12, 2021 03:03 PM