Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk has ruled himself out of playing for the Netherlands at this summer’s European Championship.
The 29-year-old is recovering from surgery after suffering knee ligament damage in October.
“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 in the off-season,” said Netherlands captain Van Dijk.
“It’s tough, but I’m at peace with it.”
The Euros are taking place between 11 June and 11 July, having been delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Van Dijk said that he had not suffered a setback in his rehabilitation and he had “progressed nicely” but, in the latest stage of his recovery, had decided he could not play at this summer’s tournament.
“I think the decision to not go is the right decision in the grand scheme of things,” added Van Dijk, speaking to the Liverpool website.
“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.”
Van Dijk’s absence for Liverpool, who are sixth in the Premier League as they struggle to secure a Champions League spot, has been compounded by long-term injuries to fellow centre-backs Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.
The Dutchman will now be aiming for the “realistic goal” of returning for pre-season with Liverpool.
Van Dijk said: “I am aiming for that and it looks like it is going to happen, but obviously you never know in football and you never know in life, but I am feeling very positive and ready to go. We’ll see.”
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp says the Euros “were in the wrong moment” for Van Dijk and that “we all have to be patient” regarding the defender’s rehabilitation.
“With Virgil, it’s one of the most serious injuries you can get,” said Klopp.
“The plan is that he can start pre-season for us but even that is not sure.
“I never wanted to cut the Euros off but I always knew, with common sense, there was no chance.
“Finally, it is announced and takes the pressure off Virgil, which is important. Hopefully, he can start soon with us again.”
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