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Klopp On Nat Phillips Debut “I Would’ve Been Nervous!”

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The Liverpool boss was full of praise for his young center back following a narrow win.

Liverpool v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Peter Powell - Pool/Getty Images

Another day, another hard-fought Liverpool victory. The Reds battled back from behind for the second time in three games, taking all available points to beat West Ham 2-1. New signing, Diogo Jota was the man for the moment once again, scoring for the fourth time in five games, with today’s decisive strike his second winner since joining from Wolves.

However, the story coming into the match was a surprise first Premier League appearance and start for young Nat Phillips, pressed into the XI as result of the Reds’ center half injury crisis. The youngster acquitted himself well, shackling the physically imposing Sébastien Haller in a solid performance in which he rarely put a foot wrong.

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was full of praise for the academy product following the win:

“Wow! I couldn’t be more happy,” the German said speaking to Sky Sports. “I asked him before the game if he was nervous and he said no, I said ‘I would be!’”

“He’s a brilliant guy, smart guy, intelligent, everything. He’s not easy on the eye, he’s not Messi but who cares? In the air, he’s a monster! He was incredible.”

Super subs Xherdan Shaqiri and Jota combined in sublime fashion to put the game to bed five minutes from normal time, and the 51-year-old reserved special praise for the winning goal, including the hard yard put into the build up.

“I loved the second goal,” Klopp beamed. “Shaq is in incredible form and Diogo obviously.

“Also how Sadio fought to win the ball and Gini pressed and passed it forward—it is things we had to do for 95 minutes against a deep defending side.”

A hectic, pandemic-compressed schedule has pushed a depleted Reds squad, and the boss made a point of commending his side’s grit and determination to pull out a difficult win.

“Football is always about finding a way and tonight the boys did that,” the German continued.

“It’s not about shining, or flying, or whatever, it’s about hard work. That was absolutely necessary against this opponent.”

“The number of games we have, and then seeing the determination and the desire of the boys, the will to deal with setbacks is really exceptional.”

The win takes Liverpool to the top of the table for the first time this season pending the result of Everton-Newcastle on Sunday.