Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp suggested via the club’s official website on Saturday that the recently-recalled Nathaniel Phillips could be in contention to be in the squad for the FA Cup third round clash against Everton next weekend, and he needs to take his chance to prove a point to his manager if he is involved.
The Merseyside outfit recalled the 6 foot 3 centre-back from his loan spell with Stuttgart last week, and it wasn’t too much of a surprise given they are currently missing Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip through injury, leaving Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez as their only senior options.
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Of course, they also have youngsters Sepp van den Berg, Morgan Boyes and Ki-Jana Hoever available, although the fact that a starting XI containing the defensive trio lost 5-0 to Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup earlier this month perhaps suggests they aren’t quite ready for regular first-team action.
Having never made a senior appearance for the club either the jury is still very much out on Phillips, although the 22-year-old did make 11 appearances in all competitions on loan at Stuttgart in the German second division this term.
According to The Mirror in August, Phillips was viewed as one of the hidden stars of the club’s 2019 pre-season schedule, although rather than being included in first-team preparations for the current campaign, he was instead sent to Germany for the season.
There he has done well enough to convince Klopp to ask for him to be recalled to help out given their current defensive issues, and the cup clash against the Toffees could be the ideal opportunity to blood him alongside either van Dijk or Gomez.
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As things stand the long-term future of Liverpool’s central defence appears to be Gomez, van den Berg and Hoever, and Phillips will be looking to have his say on that if he is handed his big opportunity against Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
He needs to prove now more than ever that he can have a part to play moving forwards in this brilliant Liverpool side.