Liverpool remain in the midst of an injury crisis. A victory over RB Leipzig in Europe that sees them into the Champions League quarter finals with the help of a solid performance by the 3,897th centre half pairing Jürgen Klopp’s tried this season doesn’t change that.
Still, given the ongoing injury crisis and generally poor results in 2021, it’s a victory that’s very much welcome. And a solid performance by the 3,897th centre half pairing that’s very much welcome—a pairing we’ll likely see again in tonight’s league match against Wolves.
“I always felt I’d be able to play in a Premier League game and do a job,” said Nat Phillips, the unheralded 23-year-old who more than probably anyone in the squad has been given an opportunity by this season’s injuries and looks a lock to start alongside Ozan Kabak tonight.
There remain concerns about Phillips’ pace given the high line this Liverpool side is built to play, but pairing the Bolton native with Kabak does allow Fabinho to push back up the pitch, giving the embattled backline cover from one of Europe’s best defensive midfielders.
And on evidence, Phillips is going to hurl himself into the match—and at opponents and towards the ball—with all he’s got. Long term it might not be a recipe for domestic success, but it does have the makings of a cult hero should the Reds achieve anything this year.
“That’s just the way I have approached it,” he added. “I don’t look too far ahead, I just crack on with working on myself and improving the things that I can get better at, to get where I want to get to. As I have progressed, my ambitions have changed over the past year.
“Premier League football was something I saw as an ambition. Then Champions League football earlier in the season. Not many players get the chance to experience it and you have to earn that right. Circumstances have dictated it, but I still have plenty more to do.”