When the 2020-21 season started, few expected 23-year-old Nat Phillips to get much playing time at Liverpool. In fact, over the summer most of the talk surrounding the centre half was about a potential move away from the club.
Season-ending injuries to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joël Matip, and now emergency centre half option Jordan Henderson, though, mean Phillips has become a regular in the matchday squad for Jürgen Klopp’s injury-ravaged Reds.
“I would say that with every game I’ve played I’ve gathered more confidence and comfort at that level,” said Phillips when asked about the unexpectedly robust role he’s taken on this season and his resulting growth as a player.
“But at the same time, every game I’ve played in there has been something to take from it personally in terms of lessons and things to work on and identifying things that I might need to improve on to carry on progressing.”
There remain questions when it comes to Phillips’ pace for playing in the high line this Liverpool side has been built around, but for a player who started the season sixth choice one would have to say he’s exceeded expectations.
Longer term, then, it might be that when Liverpool’s injured players do return he will still need to move on for the sake of his career. For now, though, he’s simply focused on getting better every day and helping to win football games.
“I’ve always been one to look back over my own performances and identify things that I feel that I need to get better at,” he added. “Moments in a game where I might have got something wrong to try to smooth out my performance.”
“Whether that’s something I can see myself and know what I might have to do just from watching the game or whether it’s something I might need to speak to the manager or coaching staff [about], I just take it as it comes.”