Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has ruled himself out of Euro 2020 to focus on getting himself fit for next season.
The Netherlands international has been out for most of the season at Anfield after suffering a knee injury picked up in the Merseyside derby against Everton.
Liverpool fans are unlikely to see Van Dijk before the end of the season and were worried that he could be rushed back for the European Championship in the summer.
However, Van Dijk has now confirmed that he will miss Euro 2020 as it is “the right decision” to make under the circumstances.
Speaking to the club’s official website, Van Dijk said: “As you say, seven months ago I got injured and it’s been a very, very long road. I had to take it step by step, as I have done. Things have been going well, I’ve not had a real setback or anything, I’ve just progressed nicely.
“In this latest stage for myself, I have come to a decision that I had to make: would I be involved in the Euros, yes or no? With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I’ve decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season.
“So, the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that’s a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that.
“Obviously I am very gutted to miss the Euros, to miss the European Championship and leading out my own country there, but things have been like they have and I have to accept it – we all have to accept it. I think the decision to not go is the right decision in the grand scheme of things. It’s tough, but I’m at peace with it.”
The Liverpool defender added: “I am not the youngest anymore; I’m obviously not old, but I am quite mature and I know by now what could be a good decision – and I think this decision has definitely been the right one, in my opinion, to give my body and my knee a little bit more extra time to get ready for hopefully a big, big 18 months at least with the club but also with my country because we’re trying to go to the next tournament after this as well and that starts in September.
“I knew for a fact before all of this – before this decision and in the beginning of my rehab – there would be pressure on myself in this case. Hopefully, everybody wants me to be back as quick as possible, but for me it is to get back as good as possible and the time is not the most important thing.
“Obviously I want to be back out there, I want to be helping my teammates, helping my country in this case and I obviously want to help the club, but I think it’s the right thing to do to stay a little bit more patient and work even harder during the off-season and get ready.”