Virgil van Dijk faces a race to be fit for Liverpool’s Champions League ties

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Virgil van Dijk is facing a race to be fit for Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid due to the unexpected severity of his damaged hamstring.

The Netherland international was substituted at half-time during Monday’s chastening 3-1 defeat at Brentford and any idea that it was a tactical move by Jurgen Klopp was swiftly removed when Van Dijk re-appeared with strapping on his right leg.

Liverpool’s players had a scheduled day off on Tuesday but Van Dijk will be scanned to determine the extent of the problem and his club fear that he is now facing a lay-off that could run into next month.

It is a huge blow for Klopp, as apart from Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Wolves, the 31-year-old will be absent for key Premier League games against Brighton and Chelsea; February begins with a trip to Wolves then the Merseyside derby before a huge fixture at Newcastle on February 18.

Three days later Liverpool face Madrid, the side who beat them in last season’s final, in the Champions League last 16 first leg and it would be a major hurdle to overcome without the man who remains their most important defensive figure.

Klopp, meanwhile, has denied he has spoken to the parents of Jude Bellingham in an attempt to get a decisive advantage in a bid to sign the England international this summer. Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea are also in the market for Liverpool’s top target.

Speaking to German publication SportBILD, he said: “These things are not possible because he is under contract with Borussia Dortmund. That is not possible without their consent. So it’s not true.

‘Jude is a great player who we are familiar with, of course. We’d be stupid not to have him on our radar. But there’s nothing more to say at the moment.’

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