Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have returned to Liverpool, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has reacted.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has voiced his joy at the return of Liverpool’s “tag team” of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Van Dijk and Gomez were introduced with 21 minutes remaining in the Reds’ 4-3 friendly defeat to Hertha Berlin in Austria on Thursday, ending long periods on the bench.
It was Van Dijk’s first appearance after cruciate ligament surgery in October, and Gomez’s patella tendon ruptured the following month.
During their rehabilitation, the centre-back pairing worked closely together, with Oxlade-Chamberlain understanding the hardships the pair have encountered after missing almost a year with a catastrophic knee injury earlier in his Liverpool career.
“Seeing them come on was a lovely moment,” he remarked. “It distracted me from the fact that it was scorching hot outside and I was sweating profusely!
“It was lovely to applaud them on, and I am thrilled for them.
“I have some understanding of what they have gone through. Everyone’s journey is unique, but I am aware of how much effort they have put in.
“They’ve been like a tiny tag team, assisting each other. So seeing them both return at the same time makes me very happy.
“They’ve been pretty good in training, looking really sharp, and now it’s all about fitness and durability,” says the coach.
“Having them back on the pitch and in and around the team is a huge, huge asset for us because they are two major characters for us.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain scored two minutes from time in a thrilling friendly, but Hertha held on to win despite twice going two goals ahead.
For the Bundesliga side, Santiago Ascacibar and Suat Serdar scored inside the first 31 minutes, only for Sadio Mane and Takumi Minamino to tie the score by halftime.
Liverpool dominated the second half, but a brace from former Manchester City striker Stevan Jovetic put the game out of reach.
“It was good and bad,” Oxlade-Chamberlain remarked of the game to liverpoolfc.com.
“At moments, we had terrific control of the game and played some wonderful football, but we also committed some errors and weren’t quite good enough. They are a good squad, and they retaliated against us.
“There was a lot of good stuff.”
“The summary comes to an end.”