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Euro Sport / Sports

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk primed for derby debut in cup

Virgil van Dijk, the world's most expensive defender, could make his Liverpool debut against local rivals Everton at Anfield in Friday night's opening FA Cup third-round clash.


Virgil van Dijk, the world's most expensive defender, could make his Liverpool debut against local rivals Everton at Anfield in Friday night's opening FA Cup third-round clash.

The centre back is eligible to play after his registration was finalised following his protracted 75 million pound ($101.8 million) move from Southampton.

Manager Juergen Klopp has yet to say whether he intends to plunge the Dutchman straight into action, particularly in such a high-profile game, but Van Dijk is likely to feature at least on the bench.

The shape of Klopp's team is further complicated by British media reports that Barcelona are about to table a bid for Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho. Meanwhile, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane may not feature in Friday's game after the German agreed to allow them to attend the African Footballer of the Year awards in Ghana on Thursday.

A private plane will fly them back with Klopp seemingly relaxed about the unusual arrangements. "We have two of the three best African players in our squad. We have to show them respect. We are going to sleep in a hotel the night before the match, they are going to sleep on a plane. That is the only difference," he said.

With Manchester City so far ahead in the Premier League, the FA Cup, which Liverpool last won in 2006, may represent Klopp's best chance of winning his first trophy at the club, although Everton always represent a formidable barrier. Last month they drew 1-1 at Anfield and have never lost a cup tie against their neighbours there.

All four previous Anfield derbies in the FA Cup, stretching back 116 years, have been drawn, most recently 1-1 in 2009 when Everton won the replay.

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