LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, July 31, 2022: Liverpool's Nathaniel Phillips during the pre-match warm-up before a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and RC Strasbourg Alsace at Anfield. Strasbourg won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Plan for Nat Phillips explained as centre-back set to return to Liverpool

Nat Phillips is set to return to Liverpool in January as a disappointing loan spell with Celtic draws to a close, but the centre-back is unlikely to stay at Anfield.

Phillips was drafted in as a last-minute signing for Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic, who were experiencing an injury crisis at the back as the summer transfer window ended.

But while it had been hoped that the 26-year-old would be given regular game time, he has played just eight times and clocked 404 minutes on the pitch.

His performances certainly haven’t helped, with a string of errors of late including an own goal in the first defeat of the Scottish Premiership campaign against Kilmarnock.

Phillips was left out entirely for the most recent game, and is now due to report back to the AXA Training Centre next month.

The Athletic‘s James Pearce reports that the defender’s loan, which was an initial four-month deal, will not be extended, meaning he will return to Merseyside.

Nat Phillips Celtic (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Given the injury to Joel Matip there had been theories that Phillips would be recalled as emergency cover, but that should not be the case.

Pearce explains that Liverpool “will consider other loan offers,” citing previous interest from Middlesbrough prior to his switch to Celtic.

There is unlikely to be a shortage of interest in Phillips mid-season, as injuries take their toll and managers find their squads less settled.

But a player who turns 27 in March would be forgiven for hoping for more, having played just 13 senior games since a standout loan with Bournemouth in 2022.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, August 15, 2022: Liverpool's Nathaniel Phillips during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. The game ended in a 1-1 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite a number of offers to re-sign Phillips upon their promotion to the Premier League, Bournemouth‘s advances were rejected by Liverpool due to injuries elsewhere in Jurgen Klopp‘s squad.

Southampton and Burnley were also interested ahead of the 2022/23 season, while Benfica were unsuccessful with a loan offer on the eve of the transfer deadline.

The following window saw Galatasaray emerge as front-runners, while last summer clubs from the Bundesliga, the Eredivisie, Serie A and the Championship were all credited with an interest, chiefly Feyenoord and Leeds.

A permanent move has never developed, though, leaving Phillips in a difficult position with 18 months remaining on his contract.