Klopp hails Morton after Liverpool win in Milan
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Nat Phillips caught the eye of Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool team-mates on Tuesday when he produced a cheeky Cruyff turn inside his own penalty area, which wrongfooted two Milan attackers in the Champions League. Klopp later said Phillips’ clever trick became the talk of the dressing room as his side went on to win 2-1 at the San Siro thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi.
“The situation of the game, yeah! He played an outstanding game,” Klopp said when asked about the incident.
“Nat with that situation.. I didn’t see it, only from distance. I’m really looking forward to seeing it for the first time!
“We spoke already in the dressing room about it. It was a tricky one!”
But it’s just about the only time Phillips has managed to catch Klopp’s eye this season. And that’s largely because the 24-year-old has scarcely been given a chance to showcase his talent.
Phillips enjoyed his first start of the season in Tuesday’s victory, which saw Liverpool become the first-ever British side to take 18 points from a possible 18 in the Champions League group stage.
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The 24-year-old took full advantage of his start, putting in an impressive performance alongside summer arrival Ibrahima Konate – who himself has struggled to nail down a regular starting berth.
Before that, the central defender had played for a combined total of just 46 minutes across all competitions, including 45 against Preston in the fourth round of the EFL Cup, and a single minute in the 2-0 group stage win over Atletico Madrid last month.
Phillips is still yet to feature in the Premier League this season and has been named as a substitute just four times in the 15 games played so far.
Such stats are a far cry from the previous campaign where Klopp at times relied heavily on Phillips to fill the void left by the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Joe Gomez – all of whom faced lengthy spells on the sidelines throughout various points of the season.
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But returning to the bench for the game against Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa on Saturday is the most likely scenario for Phillips, given Klopp made no fewer than eight changes for the largely meaningless game for Liverpool in Italy.
Pushing for a permanent January exit is one option for Phillips, who has recently been linked with a move away from Anfield.
The Telegraph, via Chronicle Live, recently reported that Phillips’ credentials match up with what Newcastle may be after in the January window.
Similarly The Sun, via Football Insider, claim that Phillips is one of the names being lined up as a potential replacement for the injured Angelo Ogbonna
Another is to go out on loan to gain experience, something the defender has had to do before when he joined then 2.Bundesliga side Stuttgart for the 2019-20 campaign.
Doing so is, of course, a feasible option, but with a player who is due to turn 25 in just three months’ time, you have to wonder whether his Anfield days are numbered and, if there will ever be a chance for him to break into the first-team on a regular basis.
Unless something drastically changes in the near future, perhaps now is the time for Phillips to leave Anfield and show off his abilities elsewhere.
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