Virgil van Dijk injury: Journalist wants Jordan Pickford banned for entirety of defender's recovery

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Julien Laurens, a journalist who has worked for ESPN and BT amongst other titles, has argued that Jordan Pickford should be banned after injuring Virgin van Dijk on Saturday's Merseyside derby.

Speaking on the ESPN FC podcast, Laurens was critical of Pickford's tackle during the crucial fixture, which saw the England 'keeper escape any punishment and Van Dijk suffer what is likely to be a season-ending injury.

"He goes in and, with his two legs, catches the knee and the leg of Virgil van Dijk," said Laurens.

Everybody could see the gravity of the tackle and how serious it was. Personally, I think Jordan Pickford should be banned for as long as Virgil van Dijk is out.

"It should have been a red card anyway, straight away."

Van Dijk limped off in the 11th minute after his collision, after receiving attention from the medical team. It has since been revealed that the defender sustained an injury to his ACL and will likely be out for a period of around eight months. 

The Dutchman is arguably Liverpool's most important player, having missed just 14 games for the club since his arrival in 2018. 

When Van Dijk has featured, Jurgen Klopp's side boasts a tremendous 91 wins from 129 games, a win percentage of 70%. But without their defensive stalwart, a record of six wins from 14 and a 43% win record is a lot less promising for the remaining 33 games of the Premier League season. 

Pickford, meanwhile, will not be subject to any retrospective punishment after the FA deemed the challenge was seen at the time, with the circumstances not extraordinary enough to require intervention. 

Laurens did, however, continue to make a point concerning VAR, which is never far from occupying a role in contentious modern football debates.

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"Michael Oliver should have gone, by himself, to see it on the screen, even if David Coote and the VAR didn't say to him 'you should go and have a look yourself.'"

In January of this year, The Professional Game Match Officials Limited, the body that manages elite referees, issued guidance on the use of pitchside monitors, stating they should be used in red card decisions in which referees feel they should have the final say. 

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