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Virgil van Dijk may be ready to figure for Liverpool in their biggest games of the season, says Michael Owen, with it possible that the Dutch defender could recover from knee surgery in time to aid bids for major silverware.
Having suffered ligament damage in a Merseyside derby clash with Everton in October, Van Dijk has been forced under the knife and into a lengthy rehabilitation programme.
Positive steps are already being taken down that path, as Liverpool mull over their options for the January transfer window with so many players being laid low.
The former Reds striker told talkSPORT on the impact untimely knocks will have on Jurgen Klopp’s plans: “It’s when you get really tested because in some games, if you’re in a good team that are better than the rest, you can carry one or two players that aren’t quite at it.
“But it’s when you get into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, it’s when you play Manchester City at Anfield, things like that, then you can’t have any passengers in your team.
“Of course, Liverpool, the whole squad is very good. But you’ve just got one or two players in any team, I don’t care who you are, that you look to and carry you to certain situations.
“When you’re in the tunnel before the game you look in front of you and behind you and think, ‘right, we’ve got a chance because we’ve got him in our team’. Van Dijk in particular is one of them.
“He’s a huge miss, but hey, who’s to say he won’t be back for those big games at the end of the season?
“A cruciate ligament injury is sort of five to six months if everything goes perfectly. So you never know. It’s a huge blow.”
Liverpool have remained competitive throughout their recent run of bad luck on the injury front, but Owen believes the battle for domestic supremacy in England has been blown wide open by the issues top title contenders have endured.
He added: “I have no doubts if these players were fit then Liverpool are the best team in the land. I think they would win the Premier League.
“This has now thrown it up in the air a little bit.
“From a Premier League point of view, I still think they can get by in virtually every game.”