Virgil van Dijk faces a battle to play again this season as he prepares to undergo surgery on his knee.

The Liverpool defender is understood to have suffered anterior cruciate ligament damage after a reckless tackle from Everton keeper Jordan Pickford in Saturday's Merseyside Derby.

Kop sources are refusing to rule out Van Dijk playing again this season.

The Dutchman underwent a scan on Saturday night which revealed damage to the ACL.

But the club's medics won't have a clearer idea on the length of time out until he undergoes the operation and begins rehab.

Van Dijk's surgery has yet to be scheduled.

Liverpool talisman Virgil van Dijk is set for an extended spell on the sidelines
Liverpool talisman Virgil van Dijk is set for an extended spell on the sidelines

The news is a huge blow to Kop boss Jurgen Klopp who has rarely been without the Kop defender since he joined the club in January 2018.

The £75m signing from Southampton has started every Premier League game since February 2018.

And before the weekend he had only missed 35 minutes of action in that time when a rib injured forced him off in September of 2018 against his former club.

Virgil van Dijk was left in agony by Jordan Pickford's tough tackle
Virgil van Dijk was left in agony by Jordan Pickford's tough tackle

Liverpool hope Van Dijk's attitude and fitness record will aid what will be a long recovery.

The Dutch international suffered the injury in the sixth minute of the clash when Pickford lunged in on him.

The Toffees keeper was spared a red card and giving away a penalty because Van Dijk was offside.

VAR checked the offside incident but there has been confusion over whether they looked at the Pickford challenge for a red card.

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Liverpool also had a late winner from Jordan Henderson ruled out as Sadio Mane was adjudged by the VAR to be offside.

The Reds are frustrated to have been given conflicting responses from the PGMOL on the incidents and have sought further clarification.

In an eventful Merseyside Derby, Richarlison was also sent off late on for a nasty tackle on Thiago which left the Spain midfielder with a knee injury.

The £20m signing from Bayern Munich will miss this week's Champions League clash with Ajax at least.