The Reds’ star defender missed out on the semi-final through illness and is no certainty to return for the decider

Liverpool will closely monitor the fitness of Virgil van DIjk ahead of their Club World Cup final on Saturday against Flamengo. 

The Netherlands international was a late withdrawal for the Reds’ semi-final clash against Monterrey, which they won 2-1 courtesy of a late goal from Roberto Firmino. 

Van Dijk struggled to train in the build-up to the match with manager Jurgen Klopp giving no guarantees he would recover in time for the decider. 

“It was an easy decision actually because he couldn’t train,” Klopp said post-match about the defender’s omission. 

“Yes, he was yesterday on the [training] pitch for a couple of minutes until the media left [the session] and then, unfortunately, he had to leave as well. Not because of the media, just because he didn’t feel well.

“So yesterday no training was possible, this morning no training possible, so it was an easy decision – he couldn’t play. It was difficult for Hendo to deal with, but he did really good.

“We will see, I don’t know how quick he can recover. We will see.”

In Van Dijk’s absence, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson started at centre-back with the Reds forced to dig deep to edge past their Mexican opponents. 

After Naby Keita had opened the scoring inside 11 minutes, Monterrey equalised just minutes later through Rogelio Funes Mori, only for Firmino to score the match winner in injury time. 

While Klopp’s side may now have to do without Van Dijk in the final, they will be boosted by the addition of talented 16-year-old Harvey Elliott. 

The attacker picked up a knock in the club’s 5-0 loss to Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday but has been cleared to travel to Qatar on Thursday morning for the final. 

Despite the Reds’ heavy defeat as they fielded their youngest ever side, Elliott still managed to impress and has been backed to become a first-team player sooner rather than later. 

Liverpool have never won the Club World Cup with Manchester United the last English club to claim the title when they did so in 2008. 

Brazilian club Flamengo are yet to lift the trophy either and booked their spot in the final after beating Al-Hilal 3-1 in their semi-final. 

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