“But in the spirit of not making an issue bigger than it needs to be, we can’t do anything about that for a while. What we can do is focus on being better ourselves.
“I look at the players we have who can play that position and I wouldn’t swap them for anyone else.
“Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Fabinho are international-quality players who have produced for us as a team time and time again.
“Nat Phillips is nearly back to full fitness and has the making to be a very good centre-half. Rhys Williams has impressed me so much with his attitude and his mentality.
“Billy Koumetio and Sepp van den Berg likewise. All learning in the best environment there is.
“Are any of them Virgil van Dijk? No… but they don’t need to be. They just need to be themselves and give everything they have for this club, be it in training or when called upon in games. And the rest of us have to be there to help.
“Virgil will back with us in no time at all, I’m sure. Because he is such an extraordinary professional I know he will come back not just as good but better. He’s the sort of character who will use the time out to learn and develop. But while we wait for him we don’t stop.”
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