Virgil van Dijk has warned his Liverpool teammates they will have to accept being substituted or sitting out games altogether given the greater squad depth at Anfield, after Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson showed their frustration at being withdrawn during the draw with Chelsea on Saturday.
Salah, in particular, endured a frustrating return to Stamford Bridge and was taken off shortly after the hour with the visitors still trailing to Eden Hazard’s first-half goal. While there is no underlying concern at the Egyptian’s form – he boasts three goals in nine club appearances to date this term – among the coaching staff, the reigning player of the year is clearly still easing his way into the campaign, with Jürgen Klopp willing to turn to Daniel Sturridge or Xherdan Shaqiri to freshen up the side’s approach.
Asked if key personnel will have to become accustomed to being replaced, Van Dijk said: “You have to, otherwise you better leave. We all want one thing: to be successful, and we need everyone’s help. It’s a long season with a lot of games. We need everyone and everyone knows that as well, and that’s a big strength for us.
“We are seven games in and Mo’s working hard. He’s still the same Mo, and he needs a bit of luck as well. I’m not worried at all, and he should not be worried either. We do it all together, we’ll always be there for him and he’ll deliver as well. He had a tough game against Chelsea, but it’s part of football.”
Klopp, with one eye on next Sunday’s visit of Manchester City, backed last season’s golden boot winner to rediscover his touch. “Of course he is not happy with himself, how could he be?” the Liverpool manager said. “That’s normal. That is what you have a manager for. We will have a talk about it. People will dissect his performances now: a nice big cut and, wow, they will find pretty much nothing.
“At the end, whatever is written, people will say sorry afterwards. It is all fine. As long a he works like he works, I am completely fine.”
Sturridge’s impact, with a glorious fourth goal of the season conjured from his first involvement against his former club, may prove timely with Gareth Southgate to name his England squad on Thursday for the Nations League ties in Croatia and Spain.
Klopp said: “Daniel played fantastically against Paris Saint-German, with high intensity, and his target must always be to play that high intensity over 95 minutes. He understands that.
“Daniel does not want us to change our style for him. He plays exactly how we want him to. He makes moves in the right places and judges situations and scores goals. When fit, he has always been an important part of the team and so he is now.”
Van Dijk said: “Before I arrived at Liverpool, I said he was one of the best strikers in the league and he shows it when he’s fit. Of course he is good enough for England.There shouldn’t be any doubt. I know what he’s capable of, how good he can be and when he’s at his best, by playing against him and seeing him in training with the hard work that he puts in and the positivity he brings. We have a great squad, world-class players, and he’s one of them.”