Virgil van Dijk has been given a vote of confidence to make his Liverpool return as soon as next month by former England international Carlton Palmer.
The centre-half has been out of action since the Merseyside Derby last October with a serious ACL injury, which seemingly should rule him out until the summer.
But Palmer fancies van Dijk’s chances of returning sometime in the next two months, and has used Alan Shearer as an example for comparison.
Speaking to Football Fancast, the former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder believes the Liverpool star is showing signs of a possible return ahead of schedule.
“From what I’m seeing from him, he’s on the bike now and he’s started to jog a bit,” he said.
“If he’s into straight-line running, you would think in the next month to two months (he could be back) – he’s an exceptional athlete and a consummate pro.
“If you look, in the past at Alan Shearer having a cruciate [injury], I think Shearer was back in record time because he looks after himself and keeps himself fit, players like that do recover quicker from injury.
“You say the season at the time was written off for him, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him back maybe at the back end of February, beginning of March.
“If that’s the case, there’s no need for them to go into the transfer market and pay money for someone they don’t really want.”
Considering Liverpool are still unwilling to put a timeline on the eventual return of van Dijk, this sort of insight from a former professional offers a glimmer of hope.
In the absence of their talismanic defender, the Reds have witness their form plummet in the last few weeks, with the squad stretch because of other injuries.
With both van Dijk and Joe Gomez forced to the side-lines, Jurgen Klopp has had to get creative with his options, playing Fabinho, Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips and even Jordan Henderson at the back.