Liverpool loanee in return “gamble” as Nat Phillips edges closer to promotion

Nat Phillips took a step closer to promotion to the Premier League, while long-time academy team-mate Sheyi Ojo made his return from a nine-week injury.

Having turned 25 on Monday, Phillips has found himself in the position he had long deserved after years in the Liverpool academy.

Now on loan at Bournemouth, the centre-back is a first-choice starter for a side chasing automatic promotion – and a 3-0 victory over Huddersfield over the weekend strengthened their claim.

Phillips made his eighth start for the Cherries on Saturday as they travelled to the John Smith’s Stadium, continuing his blossoming partnership with a player once coveted by Liverpool, Lloyd Kelly.

It was a game Bournemouth dominated, with ex-Reds striker Dominic Solanke in emphatic form as he had a hand in all three goals in a 3-0 victory.

Solanke netted his 24th goal of the campaign – in his 38th game – with a sumptuous backheeled finish on the turn, putting distance between his side and fellow chasers Luton and Huddersfield.

Bournemouth remain second, six points clear of third-placed Luton with two games in hand and 11 behind leaders Fulham having played a game fewer, and are strong favourites to return to the top flight.

If they do, it seems likely that the south-coast club would look to make Phillips’ stay a permanent one – which could bank Liverpool a sizeable transfer fee.

One player who is certain to depart on a free transfer, however, is Ojo, who is seeing out the final year of his Reds contract while on loan at Millwall.

Saturday brought a long-awaited return for the 24-year-old, who had spent the previous nine weeks out with an ankle injury before being sent on for the final 11 minutes of a 2-0 loss at Stoke.

After the game, Millwall manager Gary Rowett admitted it was a “gamble” to send Ojo, Tom Bradshaw and Maikel Kieftenbled all on for their first games back from injury.

“It was a bit of a gamble but it got them out there,” he told the South London Press.

“It will be nice for them to feel a game before the international break and come back renewed and ready to go with eight games to go and see what we can do.”

It certainly gave Ojo a boost, with the winger taking to Twitter to reflect on his comeback “nine weeks later”:

There were two other standouts from Liverpool’s loanees over the weekend, including Colombian defender Anderson Arroyo, who was credited with the assist for Mirandes winger Rodrigo Riquelme’s stunning solo goal.

Arroyo won the ball high up the pitch and allowed Atletico Madrid loanee Riquelme – who spent last season at Bournemouth – to race through and fire into the bottom corner.

Elsewhere, goalkeeper Vitezslav Jaros played a vital role as Notts County held on for a 2-1 win at Dagenham & Redbridge, picking up a yellow card for time-wasting in the final minute of stoppage time.

Jakub Ojrzynski started in Caernarfon Town’s 2-1 win over Flint Town, while Ben Woodburn, Adam Lewis and Luis Longstaff all came off the bench in Scotland.

Liverpool FC Loan Roundup

2GK45C6 Heart of Midlothian's Ben Woodburn during the cinch Premiership match at Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh. Picture date: Sunday September 12, 2021.

  • Nat Phillips (Bournemouth) – 90 mins vs. Huddersfield
  • Vitezslav Jaros (Notts County) – 90 mins vs. Dagenham & Redbridge, booked
  • Sheyi Ojo (Millwall) – 11 mins vs. Stoke
  • Ben Woodburn (Hearts) – 7 mins vs. Livingston
  • Adam Lewis (Livingston) – 16 mins vs. Hearts
  • Luis Longstaff (Queen’s Park) – 45 mins vs. Airdrieonians
  • Anderson Arroyo (Mirandes) – 86 mins vs. Real Sociedad B, assist
  • Jakub Ojrzynski (Caernarfon Town) – 90 mins vs. Flint Town

Injured: Ben Davies, Paul Glatzel, Jake Cain, Liam Hughes, Matteo Ritaccio
Not in action: Neco Williams, Sepp van den Berg