MIRROR Online: LONDON, England, By Nathan Ridley – Virgil van Dijk is set for a spell on the sidelines after his hamstring injury proved to be worse than first feared.

The Dutch defender, 31, was hauled off at half-time during Liverpool ‘s bruising 3-1 defeat away to Brentford on Monday. Manager Jurgen Klopp admitted post-match that he didn’t think the issue was “serious” and that Van Dijk himself wanted to stay on.

Now, though, the Reds are set to be without their star centre-back for much longer than 45 minutes, as the Times report that his hamstring is in a worse condition than what initial assessments on Monday made out. An ever-present in Klopp’s back line since the start of the Premier League season, Van Dijk could now miss games in three competitions in a huge blow to Liverpool’s campaign.

The Reds welcome Wolves to Anfield on Saturday in the FA Cup third round before travelling to Brighton on January 14. A clash with Chelsea comes next before facing Wolves again, but this time away from home in the league.

That’s followed by the small matter of a Merseyside derby clash with struggling neighbours Everton. Then comes a tough test on the road at potential title challengers Newcastle before hosting Real Madrid in their mouth-watering Champions League round-of-16 first leg on February 21.

Set to undergo tests to determine the severity of the injury, Van Dijk’s last prolonged spell on the sidelines came in the 2020-21 season when he tore his ACL and endured nine painstaking months of rehabilitation. Unlike the shortage of replacements then, Klopp can call upon Ibrahima KonateJoel MatipJoe Gomez and Nat Phillips to fill in for the 31-year-old.

Virgil van Dijk's injury is set to keep him on the sidelines for a spell
Virgil van Dijk’s injury is set to keep him on the sidelines for a spell – Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The Reds boss didn’t seem overly concerned with Van Dijk’s condition after losing to Brentford, explaining: “Virgil felt a little bit the muscle and said it is fine, and he is a very good judge of these kinds of things. But I didn’t want to take any risks. The physios looked quite happy when I said we don’t take risks. It’s not an injury, he just felt the intensity.”

Top Feature Photo: Virgil van Dijk was subbed off at half-time as Liverpool lost 3-1 to Brentford – John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images