Liverpool will be sweating on the fitness of central defender Nathaniel Phillips this week…
The 24-year-old was absent from training on Wednesday as Jurgen Klopp’s side underwent preparations ahead of their crucial Premier League clash with arch-rivals Manchester United on Sunday afternoon.
Plenty of other stars were spotted being put through their paces by the German and his coaching staff, including Diogo Jota and the rarely-seen January arrival Ben Davies.
Phillips has missed the Reds’ last two league outings against Leeds United and Newcastle United with a ‘minor hamstring problem‘ and last featured over two weeks ago when drawing 0-0 with Real Madrid in their Champions League quarter-final second-leg encounter.
Despite the 6 foot 3 colossus only featuring 15 times in all competitions this season, he has quickly emerged as an unlikely hero in what has been an injury-troubled season for the defending champions.
Amid their struggles, the former Frankfurt loanee picked up the club’s ‘Player of the Month’ award for March, with Phillips forming a stern partnership with Ozan Kabak – the pair kept a clean sheet in three of four matches, and when they were split up, Klopp’s side started conceding once more.
His absence against second-placed United means Fabinho is very likely to go back into the heart of defence and that’ll have Klopp and fans alike immensely worried.
Since the turn of the year, the Brazilian anchorman has played 15 times for Liverpool and their fortunes offer a stark contrast depending on where he is deployed.
When he’s been at centre-back, Klopp’s men have won once, drawn three and lost five and by comparison, when he’s played in midfield, they have won four of six matches, as per journalist David Lynch.
The Merseyside giants have four points to make up on the top-four, and a win over their enemies on Sunday would certainly bolster their chances of qualifying for the Champions League once again.
However, without Phillips and with Fabinho in defence, Klopp’s task will be made all that much harder. Perhaps it’s time to turn to Davies at long last?
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