Liverpool have confirmed that young defender Nathaniel Phillips will be out of action for the majority of the rest of the season, after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury.
The Reds’ strength in depth has been tested in recent weeks, in defence especially, but Phillips currently ranks far enough down the pecking order that his absence is unlikely to be felt by the first team – the 21-year-old failing to feature when Jurgen Klopp named a much changed linenup in the FA Cup on Monday night.
The busy festive period has seen many first-team defenders missing from the picture. Joe Gomez and Joël Matip are currently nursing injuries, while Dejan Lovren had to be substituted early on in the FA Cup tie against Wolves.
In the defeat at Molineux, Liverpool’s lack of options defensively were evident as 16-year-old Ki-Jana Hoever replaced the injured Dejan Lovren while Fabinho played as a centre-back – with Virgil van Dijk being rested for the fixture.
Liverpool Under-23s manager Neil Critchley revealed that Phillips could potentially return to training in March or April, telling liverpoolfc.com: “Nat is going through a period of rehabilitation after having an operation.
“We saw him play 45 minutes against Everton but he wasn’t quite right in that game and didn’t feel right. The physios went down a different route in terms of how to handle his injury.
“He has had surgery and I don’t want to put a timeframe on when he will be back, but we know one thing with Nat is that he is very conscientious with the hard work he does, and hopefully we can have him back before the end of the season, which would be really nice.”