Frank Lampard reacts to Van Dijk injury and sends message to Liverpool defender

Frank Lampard believes the loss of a player of Virgil van Dijk’s quality is likely to hit any team hard – but the Chelsea manager says it ‘remains to be seen’ just how much of an impact the injury will have on Liverpool’s season and the title race.

Van Dijk, 29, hobbled off the pitch after a horror challenge from Jordan Pickford in Saturday’s Merseyside derby at Goodison Park and subsequent scans showed the Netherlands international had torn his ACL and will be out for several months.

The news sent shockwaves across the Premier League, with Liverpool’s title defence now resting on the shoulders of Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and makeshift centre-half Fabinho.

Van Dijk was on the winning team and came away with a clean sheet as Liverpool won 2-0 at Stamford Bridge last month and Lampard is well aware of the Dutchman’s importance to the Merseyside giants.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Champions League opener with Sevilla, he hailed Van Dijk as one of the ‘outstanding’ centre-backs on the planet before passing on his best wishes to the crocked Liverpool defender.

Asked about the significance of the injury at his press conference on Monday, the Chelsea boss said: ‘I think Virgil van Dijk is clearly an outstanding player.

‘He’s one of the outstanding defenders in world football and has been for the last two or three seasons.

‘The loss of a player of that quality and that size is going to affect any team because individuals and the quality of individual players like that make huge differences.

‘But we’re talking about Liverpool, we’re talking about a squad that’s been built, that are so strong, with a great manager so – of course nobody wants to lose a player like that and obviously I wish him my best when I see that sort of injury – but it remains to be seen how much it affects Liverpool.’

Van Dijk vowed to return stronger than ever in a defiant message on Instagram on Sunday evening.

‘This afternoon I met with a leading consultant to start the process of planning the finer details of my rehabilitation following the incident yesterday,’ he said.

‘I’m not fully focused on my recovery and will do everything I can to be back as quickly as possible.

‘Despite the obvious disappointment, I am a full believer that within difficulty lies opportunity and with God’s help I am going to make sure I return better, fitter and stronger than ever before.

‘In football as in life, I believe everything happens for a reason and it’s important to keep level-headed, whether going through the highs or the lows.

‘With the support of my wife, kids, family and everyone at Liverpool I am ready for the challenge ahead.

‘I would like to think everyone for the messages of support, it’s meant a huge amount to me and my family and I’ll now be doing everything possible to support my team-mates in anyway I can ahead of a big few weeks ahead as I take my own recovery day-by-day. I’ll be back’.

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Frank Lampard reacts to Kepa Arrizabalaga's latest mistake for Chelsea

Frank Lampard insists he will continue to support Kepa Arrizabalaga after the goalkeeper’s latest mistake in Chelsea’s 3-3 draw with Southampton, while he expects Edouard Mendy will return within two weeks.

The West London club went two goals ahead at Stamford Bridge on Saturday thanks to a Timo Werner brace but were pegged back twice in the game, with Jannik Vestergaard striking in stoppage time to secure a draw for Southampton.

Kepa made several good stops as Saints dominated the second half, but was at fault for the away side’s second goal; Kurt Zouma under-hit his pass back to the keeper, who made a meal of his attempted tackle and allowed Che Adams to rifle home.

Lampard was disappointed for Kepa that the mistake overshadowed an otherwise decent display – also noting that he was not the only player at fault – and still hopes he can get through this difficult period of form.

Asked if Kepa is mentally strong enough to deal with yet another error, Lampard said: ‘He has to be strong enough, that’s part of the job we’re in when you’re playing top-level, elite sport.

‘All eyes are on, how competitive it is we know that, and the goalkeeper and their role means they have to really deal with that and these sort of moments. And that continues with Kepa.

‘He has to deal with that, he will feel the support of myself and he will feel the support of his teammates. And it’s unfortunate, because he did make a couple of good saves today.

‘Of course, when you’re a goalkeeper, typically people will judge you on other moments sometimes as well. But he has to keep working, there’s only one way through those kind of periods and that’s work and to feel the support around him.’

Asked a follow up question about Kepa’s future when Mendy returns from injury, Lampard continued: ‘Well I was just talking about Kepa there. He made two really good saves in the match today, but of course people’s eyes will be drawn to the second goal and I understand that.

‘But it wasn’t just Kepa who was involved in that goal. So that’s the unfortunate world of being a goalkeeper.

‘And it’s clear that Mendy at the moment is injured and will probably be fit in the next week or two weeks, and then that will be the decision for me to make about who plays.’

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