Liverpool defender Nat Phillips has trended after the Champions League game against RB Leipzig.
The Bolton trainee had an excellent game in the victory over Sheffield United but missed the Fulham loss.
Jurgen Klopp selected the centre-back as Ozan Kabak’s partner and placed Fabinho in midfield against Leipzig on Wednesday night, and that decision was inspired as Phillips had another excellent game.
Liverpool fans love Nat Phillips
He’s a more limited defender than Liverpool have traditionally picked under Klopp, but there’s still a place for Phillips’ blend of old school techniques, strengths and weaknesses.
Despite being poor with the ball at his feet, the ex-Stuttgart loanee is strong in the air and can tackle well. He’s a good foil for Kabak, who likes the carry out from the back and is more adventurous in possession.
Phillips wouldn’t have expected to play this much football for Liverpool, probably ever. He was about to join Swansea City in the summer, but that move fell through and now he’s starting Champions League games for the Reds.
Nat Phillips can cement a legacy
He’s quickly winning over fans, who love the determination that Phillips goes into aerial challenges. While wearing that headband, he’s a real throwback to the Terry Butcher era of defenders who puts their body on the line and would kick their Gran out the way to avoid conceding.
Despite this success, what would the future hold for Phillips? When Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez come back to fitness it’ll be difficult for the Englishman to get back in the squad, never mind the side.
If Kabak is recruited on a full-time basis, that’ll be Liverpool’s full contingent of four defenders, plus Rhys Williams in reserve.
However, Phillips will have proven that he’s got the ability to be a top-end Championship regular, or play a part in a Premier League squad for a side who value his abilities more than they want a ball-playing defender.