Nat Phillips made his first start of the season in Liverpool’s 2-1 win over AC Milan at the San Siro on Tuesday evening. After becoming a mainstay in the Liverpool lineup during the second half of last season, the center-back hasn’t seen much playing time recently thanks to the return of Virgil van Dijk and Joël Matip from injury and the summer transfer of Ibrahima Konaté.
Fortunately for Phillips, Liverpool had already locked up first place in their Champions League group heading into the final match against their Italian foes, so Jürgen Klopp was able to field a rotated starting XI with Phillips partnering Konaté at center-back.
Despite his lack of minutes, Phillips didn’t look out of place as the Reds blunted the Milan attack for the majority of the match. He even came away with what will be the most memorable moment of the tilt when he made a slick turn with the ball in his own box that sent the onrushing Zlatan Ibrahimović and Franck Kessie flying past.
Unfortunately, that was the last game action Phillips will see until at least the new year. According to a brief report released by LFC today, the young defender fractured his cheekbone in the victory.
The injury won’t require surgery, but it will take several weeks to heal, and the defender won’t be able to return to the lineup until January at the earliest. It’s not entirely clear how or when in the match Phillips received the injury, but he did tough it out and stay on the pitch until the final whistle.
There is a real possibility that Phillips will be sold in January. He is the fifth choice center-back when all of the central defenders are healthy, and Joe Gomez is expected to return from his own injury soon. The victory over AC Milan could prove to be Phillips’ last appearance for the Reds.
If that is the case, sending Zlatan Ibrahimović for a ride during a performance to remember in a Champions League match at the San Siro is hard to beat as far as endings go.