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Klopp Praises Nat Phillips Ahead of West Ham

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The manager has to make a decision about who will take that other center-back spot.

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Tranmere Rovers v Liverpool - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

One after the other, manager Jürgen Klopp’s center-back players have fallen like dominoes at the beginning of the 2020-21 campaign. The latest victim is Fabinho, the midfielder who briefly took over duties in the position in place of Virgil van Dijk. Thankfully, the manager seems to believe that the Brazilian won’t be out long.

However, that comfort does him no good today when he has to pick his side to play against West Ham at Anfield.

The choices for the honor include Nat Phillips, Rhys Williams, and Billy Koumetio, and with the official site, the boss had some kind words for Phillips, the 23-year-old Englishman.

“They were all good in training. I know Nat the longest so I was really happy with this development. Since I know him he made big, big steps and is an exceptional character,” Klopp said.

“I said it before that the little problem was that we were all convinced, how it looked all the time… there were a lot of clubs interested in him and in the end, maybe because of the coronavirus crisis, nobody had the money to do it but we expected him to leave the club, to be honest. Thank God he didn’t, but that’s the reason why he is not in the Champions League squad, the only reason.

“He cannot be on the bench in the Champions League but he is available for the Premier League like all three are and now I have to make a decision.”

He hasn’t ruled anyone out of contention, and in fact suggested some creative workarounds to fill the spot as well.

“And we have still, obviously, other options like Hendo or Gini or James [Milner] - or Robbo can play centre-half as well,” Klopp continued.

Klopp, if you recall, took control of this club amidst a defense injury crisis back in 2015, so he’s no stranger to making the best of a bad situation. We’ll have to see if Phillips finds himself in the hot seat, or if it’s another midfielder or wingback who plays out of position.