By 90Min
August 04, 2018

Jurgen Klopp has been impressed with the pre-season form of defender Nathaniel Phillips, with the young defender reportedly playing his way into Liverpool's first team plans for the upcoming season.

When you assess Liverpool's prospects of challenging for Premier League glory next season, it is only natural to focus on established stars such as Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, as well as high profile signings such as goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Naby Keita.

However, as outlined by James Pearce in the Liverpool Echo, a number of unheralded young players have excelled in the Reds' promising pre-season displays - one of which is central defender Phillips.

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Signed from Bolton Wanderers two years ago, the 21-year-old suffered a stress fracture in his back which ruined his prospects last season. However, he came back from injury in March to play for the Reds' Under-23 side, before being called up to the senior squad after fellow defenders Joel Matip and Joe Gomez were ruled out with injury.

Phillips played in all three of the Reds' pre-season matches in the USA - a 3-1 defeat by Borussia Dortmund, followed by wins over Manchester City (2-1) and Manchester United (4-1).

Phillips may not have been the standout young player in Liverpool's pre-season games so far. Forward Rafael Camacho and midfielder Curtis Jones have both given more eye-catching displays. 

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Nevertheless, Klopp and his coaching staff have been highly impressed by how much Phillips has improved, not least in terms of confidence and distribution. The 21-year-old defender is regarded as a hidden star of Liverpool's pre-season games.

As a reward for his fine performances, Phillips was named in the squad to face Napoli in Dublin on Saturday. 

If he continues to impress, he may even be a serious contender for minutes alongside Virgil van Dijk in the Premier League.

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