By 90Min
April 02, 2019

Liverpool centre-back Joel Matip is optimistic that team-mate Virgil van Dijk will be fit to face former club Southampton in the Premier League on Friday. 

The Dutchman sustained an ankle injury after attempting to block a Moussa Sissoko shot during the latter stages of the Reds' dramatic 2-1 win over Tottenham last time out, as Jurgen Klopp's side moved back above Manchester City to the summit of the table.

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Klopp admitted after the game that he hoped the injury for Van Dijk - which required an ice pack post-match - was 'nothing serious', with Matip sharing those sentiments and expects to be partnered with the 27-year-old at the centre of defence against the Saints, as he has done for the previous ten league games.

I think he is not too bad," replied Matip when asked during an interview with Sky Sports about the severity of Van Dijk's injury. 

"After a game a few players always have some small injuries but I've heard nothing else, so I think he will be fit."

Van Dijk has certainly had a positive influence on Liverpool defensively since his £75m arrival from Southampton in January 2018, with the signs of an improved defensive unit transcending from the second half of last season into this campaign.

The Reds have the best defensive record in the league this season, conceding just 19 goals in 32 games so far, although Matip has put that down to improvements made throughout the team.

He added: "We have all made it quite good. Virgil has had a big impact on the whole defence but it starts at the front, we put pressure on the opponent. It makes life easier for us. The whole team is defending much better."

Klopp's side could find themselves back in second by the time they kick off against Ralph Hasenhuttl's side on Friday if City beat Cardiff on Wednesday, with Sadio Mane claiming the Reds need to win 'all their remaining games' to clinch the title, although Matip thinks both sides will drop points between now and the end of the season.

The 27-year-old said: "I think it will be hard for both teams to play these kind of games without dropping points. But we are only looking to our next opponent. That is the most important thing."

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