Virgil van Dijk admits he has "work to do" and shouldn't be expected to have already rediscovered the form shown before the serious knee injury that sidelined him for nine months.

Exactly a year has passed since it was confirmed Van Dijk suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage after being caught by a wild challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford at Goodison the previous day.

The Dutchman made his long-awaited return to action during pre-season and has started nine of Liverpool's 11 games this campaign.

But Van Dijk believes there are steps to go before he is back at optimum level.

"I'm still on the way," said the centre-back. "I know there are a lot of eyes pointing in my direction, wondering 'is he going to be back in the same way' and stuff, but it's something I'm not thinking about.

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"The only thing I can do is try my best each and every game. I feel like I am improving.

"Everybody knows how difficult it is to come back from a knee injury. I don't think there are a lot of examples of players who had an ACL and complex knee injury that gets back to his best after a year.

"I have work to do. But I don't think about what others have to say or judge. I want to be as good as I can for the team I play for and the fans I play for, and in my case the country I play for.

"The only thing to get there is to play games, to get better, to get more confident in the things you do, get back to normal things.

"So far, it is going in the right way and I am feeling fine. But there is always room for improvement."

Van Dijk had difficult games against Brentford and Manchester City before the international break but was impressive in Saturday's 5-0 Premier League romp at Watford.

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And speaking on Monday ahead of Liverpool's Champions League game at Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, he said: "I'm just happy where I am today. That's how I look at it.

"I'm playing at the highest level again, playing with a lot of joy. Obviously we are working really hard to get good results and we have been getting them.

"There is still a lot to improve for me personally. The only thing I can do is take it day by day. I've said in previous interviews I am not a robot, I have come back from a very serious injury.

"I'm my own biggest critic and I know exactly when I can do better, and when things are going well too. How I see it is to just improve as much as I can, and I'm fairly confident in the way I see things.

"Obviously I have had a long off-season, pre-season and feel like I gradually improve by the game and by every training session."