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Nat Phillips’ patience pays off with Ibrahimovic battle – but what about that drag back?

After playing a key role in securing Champions League football for Liverpool this season, Nat Phillips finally got his first start in the final group game on Tuesday.

Following the return of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and the arrival of Ibrahima Konate and with no summer move eventuating, Phillips has had to bide his time.

The 24-year-old is fifth in the pecking order at centre-back and had seen just 46 minutes of senior action before Liverpool’s trip to the San Siro.

That the Reds had safely qualified ensured Jurgen Klopp could heavily rotate his side and after praising his “absolutely insane” development, Phillips got his chance alongside Konate.

And in his first start since May, Phillips held his own against the Italians and he knows patience will continue to be needed as first-hand experience suggests he could be needed at any time.

“All I can do is apply myself as much as possible in training and develop myself as much as possible,” Phillips told the club’s official website.

MILAN, ITALY - Tuesday, December 7, 2021: Liverpool's Takumi Minamino, Kostas Tsimikas, Fabio Henrique Tavares 'Fabinho', Nathaniel Phillips and Naby Keita applaud the travelling supporters after the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 6 game between AC Milan and Liverpool FC at the Stadio San Siro. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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

“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.

“I felt like I stood myself in good stead this evening. It was tough towards the end, 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.”

But what about that drag back between two Milan forwards in his own penalty box in the closing stages? Well, he joins plenty of Reds in wanting to watch it back.

“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!”

Phillips’ future will come into question once more in the January window with Klopp admitting as much earlier this month following the need for Liverpool to cover themselves in the position.

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