Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has ruled himself out of playing for the Netherlands at the European Championship, choosing instead to focus on his final rehabilitation from a knee injury.
The centre-back needed surgery after damaging knee ligaments in a 2-2 Premier League draw in mid-October, which has left him on the sidelines ever since.
Van Dijk had been working towards trying to be fit to captain his country at the tournament, but he says although he is on course to make a full recovery, he has ultimately ran out of time.
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“Things have been going well, I’ve not had a real setback or anything, I’ve just progressed nicely,” he told Liverpool’s website.
“In this latest stage for myself, I have come to a decision that I had to make: would I be involved in the Euros, yes or no?
“With everything that is going on, I feel physically it is the right decision that I’ve decided not to go to the Euros and to go into my last phase of rehab during the off-season.
“So, the full focus will be on pre-season with the club and that’s a realistic goal, so I am looking forward to that.
Obviously I am very gutted to miss the Euros, to miss the European Championship and leading out my own country there, but things have been like they have and I have to accept it – we all have to accept it.
“I think the decision to not go is the right decision in the grand scheme of things. It’s tough, but I’m at peace with it.”
While his team-mates are looking forward to a break in a season which has been more intense than any other due to how fixtures have been packed into a condensed campaign, Van Dijk says his recovery will not be slowing down.
“When the season ends it doesn’t really end for me,” he said.
“I will train every day, keep training until pre-season starts. Obviously there will be a couple of days of sort of rest, but I want to be ready and I will do everything that is possible to get ready, which is normal.
“I am looking forward to it. The sun is going to be shining again, so it makes it a little bit easier.
I will keep working and that’s definitely the only thing that I can promise: that I will keep going no matter what.
"It’s all positive, I am very gutted to not be going to the Euros, but it is the right decision for this time and hopefully for the future as well.”
The Netherlands begin their Euro 2020 campaign against Ukraine on June 13.
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