Premier League • England

‘Outstanding’ Liverpool star in message to Jurgen Klopp over playing time

Nat Phillips, Kostas Tsimikas December 2021

Nathaniel Phillips wants more first-team football after he got another taster against AC Milan in the San Siro on Tuesday night.

Phillips, 24, who was making his first start of the season did not disappoint. He helped Jurgen Klopp’s men to a 2-1 win to make it six wins from six qualifying games in their Champions League group. And the centre-back demonstrated a superb piece of skill which, afterwards Jurgen Klopp labelled “the situation of the game”. 

Midway through the second half inside his own penalty area, facing his own goal, Phillips displayed calmness and skill. He turned away from two onrushing Milan players and launched Liverpool on the attack.

“Yeah, it was [special] – I’ll have to watch it back when I get chance,” Phillips said.

“There was no real thought process behind it, to be honest. It was one of those things, it was just instinct and thankfully it paid off. I’m looking forward to watching that back.

“If it is [a GIF] I’ll have to get hold of it so I can send it around!

It was an impressive performance from Phillips, “outstanding,” according to Klopp.

The defender admitted he tired towards the end. And it was a run-out which has only whetted his appetite for more action. But with a fully-fit back line this season, a repeat of last season’s 20 appearances seems unlikely.

Last week Klopp heaped praise on his fifth-choice centre-back, admitting the Reds “cannot keep him forever”. And Phillips is already a target for Newcastle and West Ham, according to reports.

Phillips felt fatigued

Barring another injury in central defence Phillips will most likely be allowed to leave and he has admitted now that game time is crucial to him.

“Obviously I want to be playing as much as possible, but the competition is really difficult. So I’ve got to be ready when I’m called upon,” he told

“I felt like I stood myself in good stead (against Milan). It was tough towards the end.

“It was tough against (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic, someone who has been at the top throughout most of his career, so it was a really tough battle and I enjoyed every minute of it.

“I did get a bit fatigued – that’s going to happen when you play your first 90 minutes in a long time – but I felt overall I can be proud of my performance.

“And it just shows that the work that I have been putting in during training pays off.

Jurgen Klopp's Jude Bellingham plan

Jurgen Klopp's Jude Bellingham plan

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has reported hopes that rival clubs will be distracted by Erling Haaland’s summer availability, leaving the reds free to pursue a £90m move for his teammate Jude Bellingham.


“All I can do is apply myself as much as possible in training and develop myself as much as possible.

“I feel like I’ve been seeing those developments over the last few seasons.”

Origi honoured to be playing in Champions League

Divock Origi, who scored the winning goal as Liverpool became the first English club to win all six Champions League group matches, has also been existing on limited playing time.

However, his ability to make an impact off the bench and the impending loss of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane to the African Nations Cup in January, means there is no chance of his departure in January.

The Belgium international is out of contract in the summer and, while it seems unlikely the forward, who turns 27 in April, will extend his stay, he too wants to make the most of the chances he gets.

“I would say I tried to play my game as much as possible and enjoy (it),” said Origi, who scored an important late Premier League winner at Wolves on Saturday.

“Being on the pitch for me is an honour, it’s a joy. It’s something I love so much.

“Being able to express yourself on the highest level in the Champions League is what you work so hard for. Being able to score and help the team, it’s a very nice feeling.

“In football it’s all about again and again giving everything. The results come by doing the right things at the right time in the right moment. Being in the moment.”

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