James Milner says it is imperative Liverpool rotate Virgil van Dijk following his return from a long injury lay-off despite being regarded by team-mates as ‘Superman’.
The Netherlands captain, 30, was rested for the midweek Champions League victory over AC Milan but returned to play his fifth full 90 minutes in the Premier League this season in the 3-0 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Van Dijk required ACL knee surgery after a clash with Jordan Pickford during a 2-2 draw with Everton on 17 October last year.
“We all think Virg is Superman and he is, 99 times out of 100,” said Milner.
“But the injury that he has come back from – and to look as good as he has done since he has come back – you know, he’s not 21.
“To do what he has done since he’s been back is incredible. It shows what a good player he is, what a mentality he has.
“But he needs looking after as well, no matter how angry he gets at being left out of the team. He is going to need looking after and that is rotation.”
Van Dijk started the first four league games of the campaign alongside Joel Matip but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp opted to name summer signing Ibrahima Konate as his centre-back partner against Palace.
In place of the rested Van Dijk last week, England international Joe Gomez made a long-awaited return after 10 months out through a knee injury of his own.
Liverpool vice-captain Milner added: “You look at the centre-halves in the club – they are all incredible. You see them in training, they are unbelievable.
“I think it (rotation) is obviously important. The positions we got into last year, we were unlucky with injuries and players having to play out of position. I think it is to help with things like that.”
Liverpool, who have conceded just once so far in the league, travel to Norwich in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday, live on Sky Sports.
The Reds finished third in the Premier League last season, 17 points behind champions Manchester City, after a strong finish ensured Champions League qualification.
Two years on from their league title, Milner believes they have even more in their squad than when they broke their 30-year title drought.
“I think that is the mentality you need. You can’t dwell, whether you have a good performance or a bad performance. You need to move on to the next one,” the 35-year-old added.
“You can’t be too happy after a good one, you can’t be too down after a bad one.
“If you have a couple of bad results and iffy performances, that is when it gets harder, but you look at this squad and it is more experienced than when we won the title.
“We had the pain of last year but it ended up being a really good year, with what we managed to achieve in the circumstances and coming with that late run (to qualify for the Champions League).
“But those experiences and feelings, as a group, we have been through them all together and that can only be a good thing.”