Liverpool star Van Dijk to undergo surgery on right knee

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk will undergo surgery on his right knee after damaging ligaments in a challenge by Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford during the Merseyside derby, the Premier League champions said Sunday.

Liverpool did not give a timescale on Van Dijk's absence, but an injury of that nature will likely keep the Netherlands international out for a long period.

“Following surgery,” Liverpool said, “Van Dijk will begin a rehabilitation program with the club’s medical team to enable him to reach full fitness as soon as possible.”

Van Dijk was the subject of a reckless lunge by Pickford in the sixth minute of the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park on Saturday. The center back immediately came off after lengthy treatment and hobbled gingerly around the field to the locker room. It meant English soccer’s player of the year from 2018-19 missed his first minutes of league action since September 2018.

Van Dijk has been a commanding presence at the heart of Liverpool’s defense throughout the team’s rise to the top of English and European soccer in recent years.

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