Liverpool star thought Anfield career was over before Van Dijk helping hand

Date published: Thursday 4th March 2021 5:50 - Robert McCarthy

Nathaniel Phillips Sheff Utd v Liverpool February 2021

Nat Phillips admits he was disillusioned with life at Liverpool before an unexpected break came his way at the start of the season.

Opportunities at Anfield were few and far between for the 23-year-old, with Jurgen Klopp blessed with a number of top centre-backs.

Being so far down the pecking order, Phillips looked for a loan exit in the summer – only to be denied.

However, fate then intervened as a string of injuries to Reds stars gave Phillips his chance.

The defender, who spent last season on loan at Stuttgart, told Sky Sports: “At the end of pre-season, it looked like I was on my way out and going elsewhere to get some games and start my career, and carry on off the back of my loan spell last season.

“Initially, when it first happened, everybody was fit, and it didn’t look like there would be any scenario where I would be playing for Liverpool’s first team this year.

“I was a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to going and playing football and just kick-starting my career. But obviously things changed, and I don’t think anybody could have seen what was coming. It was like a typical example of how bizarre football can be sometimes.

“I think it was within a month I was making my debut.”

Virgil van Dijk was the first Reds star to go down before being joined by Joe Gomez and Joel Matip.

That left Phillips and Rhys Williams to play alongside converted defender Fabinho, before he also succumbed.

Phillips made his Premier League debut for the Reds in their 2-1 win over West Ham on October 31.

He has since featured in seven top-flight outings, more recently lining up alongside new boy Ozan Kabak after Jordan Henderson’s injury.

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Van Dijk a shoulder to lean on

It remains to be seen where Phillips will stand when everyone returns. The youngster has admitted that Van Dijk has played a big role in helping him, however.

He added, ahead of Thursday’s crunch game with Chelsea: “Virg has been a big help when he’s been in and around the dressing room on game days.

“He will give advice for certain situations that are happening in the game and how we might be able to alter things to improve those situations in our favour.

“But I would say everybody in general has been a massive help. From the manager and the coaching staff, to the players, who are always talking to me throughout the games.

“Especially in my first few games, they were helping me through those. But as I’ve played more games and gained a bit more trust.

“I think the players haven’t had to look after me as much because they feel like I’m capable of producing. From the start, everybody wanted to help me out, and they did that.”

READ MORE: Neville thinks PL’s most underrated is at Liverpool; in awe of second Red


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