James Milner says it is imperative that Liverpool turn Virgil van Dijk after returning from a long injury absence despite being viewed by his teammates as ‘Superman’.
The Netherlands captain, 30, had rested for the Champions League midweek victory over AC Milan but returned to play his fifth full 90 minutes in the Premier League this season in the 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Van Dijk had to undergo ACL knee surgery following a clash with Jordan Pickford in a 2-2 draw with Everton on October 17 last year.
“We all think Virg is Superman and he is 99 out of 100 times,” Milner said.
“But the injury he came back from – and to look as good as he’s done since coming back – you know, he’s not 21.
“To do what he’s done since coming back is amazing. It shows how good he is, what a mentality he has.
“But he also needs care, no matter how angry he is to be left out of the squad. He’s going to need care and that’s the rotation.”
Van Dijk started the campaign’s first four league games alongside Joel Matip, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp opted to name summer signing Ibrahima Konate as central partner against Palace.
In place of Van Dijk, who was rested last week, England international Joe Gomez has made a long-awaited return after a 10-month absence due to a knee injury.
Liverpool vice-captain Milner added: “You look at the club’s center-halfs – they’re all amazing. You see them in training, they’re amazing.
“I think (the rotation) is obviously important. The positions that we occupied last year, we were unlucky with injuries and players who had to play out of position. is to help with things like that. “
Liverpool, who have conceded only once so far in the league, travel to Norwich in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, live Air sports.
The Reds finished third in the Premier League last season, 17 points behind champions Manchester City, after a solid finish that secured Champions League qualification.
Two years after their league title, Milner believes they have even more on their squad than when they broke their 30-year title drought.
“I think that’s the mindset you need. You can’t linger whether you’re having a good performance or a bad performance. You have to move on to the next one,” added the 35-year-old.
“You can’t be too happy after a good, you can’t be too depressed after a bad.
“If you have a few bad results and questionable performances, that’s when it gets harder, but you look at this team and they are more experienced than when we won the title.
“We had the pain last year, but it ended up being a really good year, with what we managed to achieve under the circumstances and coming up with this late run (to qualify for the Champions League ).
“But these experiences and feelings, as a group, we’ve all been through them together and that can only be a good thing.”