LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 5, 2020: Liverpool's Nathaniel Phillips during the FA Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 235th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Nat Phillips under watchful eyes as Liverpool weigh up loan or fourth-choice stay

Nat Phillips remains in the dark over where his short-term future lies but will be given the chance to catch the eye in pre-season.

The young centre-back spent last season on loan with Stuttgart, the opposition for Liverpool’s first pre-season friendly, in the first temporary switch of his career.

The 23-year-old had signed a new long-term contract at Anfield before his departure last season, where he went on to feature 22 times as the German outfit sealed their return to the Bundesliga.

A short return to Merseyside in December saw him make his senior bow for Liverpool at the turn of the year as part of the side who knocked Everton out of the FA Cup.

And having now linked back up with Liverpool as part of their pre-season camp in Austria, questions pertaining to his future have started to emerge.

The Reds are, of course, without a fourth choice centre-back following the departure of Dejan Lovren at the start of the summer and have been linked with a number of options, including Brighton‘s Ben White and Real Betis’ Aissa Mandi.

Phillips has an upper hand over the likes of Sepp van den Berg and Ki-Jana Hoever as youth options from within, but he still has everything to prove.

While in the dark over where he may end up in 2020/21, a close eye will be kept on Phillips throughout pre-season before a decision is made – but either way, he is seeing it as another opportunity to develop.

“I’m sort of used to the unpredictability now!” Phillips explained to the club’s official website.

Nathaniel Phillips (VFB Stuttgart), (Image: Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON/DPA/PA Images)

“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.”

For now, Phillips is relishing working alongside a side who he states has not seen the hunger or desire for success diminish after their remarkable 2019/20 campaign.

“If anything, it’s grown more so after people have had a taste of what it’s like.”