Liverpool defender Nat Phillips is the perfect example that making the grade in Jurgen Klopp’s squad is no means an easy feat.
The 23-year-old defender has had to begin yet another pre-season with Liverpool with his imminent Reds future still up in the air.
Phillips is among the first-team squad camp in Austria following a season-long loan spell with Stuttgart.
He signed a contract extension at the club in August before making the move abroad to Germany’s second-tier and played a significant role in Stuttgart’s promotion back to the Bundesliga.
The former Bolton trainee endured a bizarre series of events after Phillips was recalled from his loan spell in Germany briefly to make his senior debut for Liverpool during the FA Cup third-round victory against Everton.
Immediately after the Merseyside derby win, it was back to Germany and for Phillips who clocked up 22 appearances during his time in Bundesliga 2.
Phillips is now back among the first-team squad off the back of their Premier League title victory although the central defender is still uncertain about where his footballing talents will be utilised next season.
“I’m sort of used to the unpredictability now!” Phillips laughed during an interview with Liverpool’s official website.
“From what I understand, the plan is that they’ll have a look at me throughout pre-season and we’ll go from there. I think whichever direction my season ahead goes in, I’ll be in a good position.
“If they decide to keep me here after the departure of Dejan [Lovren], obviously I’m one spot closer to the first team, which is good, and I can compete for a place.
“Likewise, if I go out on loan then I’m able to go out and get more games and more first-team experience and start establishing myself in my career.
“I’m feeling quite happy and comfortable going into the season ahead.”
What RTK has to say
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Phillip’s comments is just how relaxed he is regarding his Liverpool future.
It tells you that Phillips understands perfectly just how hard it is to break into this group of players that are among some of the best in the world.
Dejan Lovren’s departure may have opened a potential route into the senior set-up although there are other up-and-coming central defenders such as Billy Koumetio, Sepp van den Berg and Ki-Jana Hoever who will also be competing to make the grade in defence.
It typifies the ruthless mentality required to survive in the current Liverpool set-up as the club’s recent continental domination showcases Jurgen Klopp requires the best in every aspect of the club and if you can’t cut the standards required you will quickly be cast out.
Although it remains unknown as to how much of an influence Phillips will have with the Reds next season, his continuing involvement in the Liverpool camp will only set the player up for success in the years to come.
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