Liverpool fuming at 'stupid' Pickford challenge

Amsterdam (AFP) –


Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum branded the challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford that injured Virgil van Dijk as "stupid" and called for the England number one to be punished.

Van Dijk looks set to miss the rest of the season after suffering cruciate ligament damage in a contentious 2-2 draw in the Merseyside derby on Saturday that also saw Everton forward Richarlison sent-off for a wild lunge on Thiago Alcantara.

"Of course we are upset," said Wijnaldum at a pre-match press conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Ajax.

"The way Pickford went in to the challenge was completely, in my opinion, stupid. I believe he didn't want to injure Virgil the way he injured him, but the way he took the tackle, he didn't care about what happened after the tackle.

"I think we had it a lot in the games against Everton. In my opinion they take it way too far in the games we play against them.

"We know it is a derby and everyone wants to win that derby, sometimes you go over the top, but it was too much.

"It was not only his tackle. If we talk about the tackle from Richarlison on Thiago, that was also a nasty one."

Pickford will not face any retrospective punishment after referee Michael Oliver took no action on the field, nor was he instructed to review in the incident by VAR.

"Accidents can always happen in football, you can be unlucky but they way they were doing it was completely unacceptable," added Wijnaldum.

"It makes it harder that they don't get punished. In this case Pickford doesn't get punished after seeing the videos."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp labelled both challenges "difficult to accept".

"Injuries happen, it is just normally it is both players just going for the ball. That was not the case in these two challenges and it makes it so difficult to take.

Klopp called for more incentives for good disciplinary records.

"In the last four years we were leader of the fair play table and you don't get anything for that."

Klopp also rounded on reporters for asking whether he plans to bolster his defensive options in the January transfer window.

Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are the only other senior central defenders in Klopp's squad. Matip has not travelled to Amsterdam due to injury, with midfielder Fabinho set to deputise at centre-back.

"We are still a little bit sensitive with the subject," said Klopp.

"We know since yesterday our vice-captain and best centre-back in the world is not playing for us for a long time. We will try to find solutions, but I have no idea how they will look."