Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has issued a downbeat pre-season verdict on the fitness of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

The central defensive duo have not played since last year and are yet to feature in any of the Reds' three pre-season matches.

Klopp started new signing Ibrahimi Konate and Joel Matip in the heart of the rearguard in Friday night's friendly against his former club, Mainz 05, and the pair were solid as Liverpool won 1-0.

The victory came thanks to an own goal after 18-year-old left-back Owen Beck’s cross was diverted in by 05 defender Luca Kilian with five minutes left.

Three-and-a-half thousand spectators saw two different XIs at the picturesque Untersberg-Arena in Grodig, Austria.

What doesn't look as good for Reds fans, however, is the expectation that they will have to wait on seeing two stars during their Austrian pre-season campaign, next taking on fellow Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin next Thursday in Innsbruck.

Asked if the pair would feature in the upcoming game post-match, Klopp admitted to LFC TV : "Yeah, it would still be a surprise, unfortunately.

"But they look really good," he insisted.

van Dijk has been out since October with a ruptured cruciate ligament which he suffered in a fiery Merseyside Derby, while Gomez suffered a tendon injury to his knee while on international duty with England in November.

The Anfield duo's injuries were largely the reason why Klopp was forced to field 16 different centre-back partnerships last season.

The ex-Mainz manager continued: "We just have to be patient – we prepare for a full season, not for a pre-season game.

Gomez and van Dijk are still on their road to recovery
Gomez and van Dijk are still on their road to recovery

"I will not risk it for a game here, so we have to see," stressed the 54-year-old.

"We have a lot of games still coming, pre-season games, but I don’t see them being involved for the next one."

With two different teams in each half, Liverpool's first full 90-minute friendly wasn't a classic.

However, the Reds gaffer was impressed with a number of elements, particularly the youngsters on show.

"Harvey [Elliott] again first half, really, really good. The kids are doing well, I have to say," noted Klopp.

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"I really enjoyed a lot watching them and helping them to understand the game better and better and better, to understand the position and they have to be brave otherwise it would be a waste of time.

"That Owen was involved in the goal is nice for him, he played good I have to say."

On the overall performance, he stated: "It was far away from being perfect, but it is absolutely OK.

"Second half I saw the boys, the kids, fought for a result and they got it."

Klopp added: "It is never about 100 per cent, it is about the available per cent – and I think the boys did that today, so I am happy.

"Nobody injured, that’s important as well, everybody came through, so fine, really fine for today."

Liverpool kick-off their Premier League campaign on Saturday, August 14 at Norwich City.

The last time the Reds faced the Canaries on the opening weekend of a top-flight term, the men from Anfield went on to lift the title.

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