Liverpool defender, Virgil van Dijk, feels his first Premier League appearance since last October was a big step towards putting behind him a “mentally tough” 10 months out through injury.
The Netherlands centre-back, 30, played the full match as Liverpool claimed an opening-day 3-0 win at Norwich.
“It’s a good start. Now we have time to recover for next week,” Van Dijk said.
“To be back out there helping the boys, I hope to continue that. I need games – the manager knows it, I know it.”
He added: “In the end 3-0 sounds comfortable but at times, especially at the end, we were making it difficult for ourselves. Maybe that’s fatigue, maybe we can do better – we’ll have a look at it.”
Van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury in a clash with Jordan Pickford during a 2-2 draw with Everton on 17 October last year and admitted he found it difficult having to watch as Liverpool’s title defence faltered.
“Mentally it’s tough,” Van Dijk told Sky Sports. “One day you’re fully fit, the next you’re full of medication and in pain.
“Everyone has their opinion [on what happened] and you read those things because you have nothing to do! We had more injuries in key positions so couldn’t play our game, the way we want to play, with high pressure.
“The guys did a fantastic job to come through it. Hopefully we can build on it and stay fit because we can’t take that for granted either.”