Virgil van Dijk offered his support to Liverpool’s teenage star Harvey Elliott after the 18-year-old midfielder’s left ankle was dislocated, overshadowing an impressive 3-0 win for the Reds at Leeds United on Sunday.
Leeds midfielder Pascal Struijk was sent off for a challenge from behind on Elliott midway through the second half.
By that point, Liverpool were already comfortably ahead thanks to Mohamed Salah’s 100th English Premier League goal and Fabinho’s 50th-minute strike.
Sadio Mane rounded off the scoring in stoppage time as Liverpool joined Manchester United and Chelsea at the top of the Premier League table on 10 points from four games.
However, the loss of Elliott cast a dark cloud over a positive performance for manager Juergen Klopp.
Elliott, who made his Premier League debut as a 16-year-old for Fulham, had broken into the Reds side with impressive early season displays against Burnley and Chelsea.
Van Dijk’s own long-term injury — cruciate ligament damage in his right knee — derailed Liverpool’s title defense last season.
However, the Dutch captain has returned close to his best so far this season and said Elliott would count on the same support.
“All our thoughts and prayers are going to Harvey. Hopefully he recovers quickly and as good as possible from it,” Van Dijk said.
“The good thing is, I’ve experienced it with all the players, the staff, everyone around Liverpool, the fans, that they had my back in the difficult times too. I’m 100 percent sure we’re all going to be there for him,” he said.
The incident took place right in front of the Liverpool bench and Klopp was involved in an angry exchange of words with Leeds fans, who had initially been angered that the game was stopped.
However, Elliott was able to applaud the Leeds supporters while being carried from the field, as they gave the England Under-18 international a rousing reception.
“Thank you for the messages guys!” Elliott posted on Instagram from an ambulance taking him to hospital. “Road to recovery.”
Klopp said that the Liverpool medical staff had been able to put the ankle back in place before Elliott left the stadium.
“I think we all saw it. The ankle was not in the right place,” he said. “Obviously it’s a bad injury and we have to wait now for the further examinations. We will wait for him because obviously he is a top, top player.”
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