As Liverpool faced a minor injury crisis at centre half with Joël Matip and Dejan Lovren sidelined along with defensive midfielder and emergency defender Fabinho all sidelined, the club made the call to bring Nat Phillips back as cover.
The 22-year-old had been at Stuttgart in the Bundesliga.2, where he’d made 11 total appearances in the first half of the season, and the expectation is that he will return there shortly, but in the meantime he’s enjoying is Liverpool chance.
“The highlight of my career so far,” he said when asked about his role in the Reds’ 1-0 FA Cup derby victory over local rivals Everton. “To play in a derby at Anfield in the FA Cup, get a win and a clean sheet. You can’t really ask for much more.
“I’ve just got to enjoy it now. It’s a great club to be at—at this moment in time as well because they’re doing so well. Of course I’m enjoying it, I’m enjoying training at such a high standard, you’ve got to be hitting [it] every single day.”
When Matip and Lovren return, the expectation—as relayed by journalists with ties to the club—is that Phillips will return to Stuttgart, as his Liverpool return was negotiated rather than being the result of the Reds triggering a break clause.
That will help to give Phillips the playing time he needs to continue to develop, but even this short return to England and a single Liverpool start—if that’s all he ends up getting—is a useful reminder of the standard he has to aim for.
“It was a bit of a shock for me first 10 minutes at how fast-paced the game was,” he added. “I’ve been used to a slower-paced game in Germany. But you’ve just got to get over that and do your job. Fortunately we managed to do that.
“I thought it was a great team performance. It was a difficult game obviously. I’ve been away for the most part of the season and been in for the last week and a half but had to settle in, but it just showed what a great group of lads we’ve got.”