On Friday, Liverpool continue their preparations for the restart of the 2022-23 season following the World Cup with a friendly against AC Milan in Dubai. Mid-season warm-up games are hardly appointment television, but there is one point of special interest.
For Liverpool players and fans, it will be a chance to get reacquainted for a time with former Red and Anfield cult hero Divock Origi, with the 27-year-old Belgian having moved to the San Siro on a free transfer over the summer where he’s made 14 appearances so far.
“I am looking forward to seeing him and it’ll be nice because I got on well with Div,” reflected centre half Nat Phillips, who’s likely to get at least a few minutes on Friday with Ibrahima Konaté and Virgil van Dijk both absent due to their World Cup commitments.
For Phillips, facing Milan will also have other fond memories with one of the defenders best games coming on the road against the Serie A side in the Champions League in December of 2021, a game that saw Phillips memorably Cruyff turn away from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mainly, though, Friday’s game will be about one thing: regaining form and fitness. All reunions and fond memories aside, after more than a month without competitive football for many of Liverpool’s players, that’s the only thing that will really matter on Friday.
“Obviously it has been intense,” Phillips added. “We want to get up to speed quickly, so we’ve been putting the work in. It has been nice to be back, you start to miss it after a few weeks so it’s been nice to be back with the ball at our feet and seeing the boys again.
“It’s definitely been unusual, but you adapt pretty quickly—you just turn up and put the work in. It’s important to remember we’re in the middle of the season and to be right at it when we go back.”