InterviewNat Phillips on Nunez test, promotion and pre-season aims
Nathaniel Phillips is looking forward to testing himself against Darwin Nunez in training after returning to Liverpool as a promotion-winner.
The central defender spent the second half of last season with AFC Bournemouth and made 17 Championship appearances to help the Cherries secure second place and a return to the Premier League.
Now back with the Reds, Phillips is part of the 37-man squad that arrived in Bangkok on Sunday for the pre-season tour of Thailand and Singapore.
He is likely to come up against summer signing Nunez during sessions in the coming days and is keen to see the ‘top player’ in action up close.
“Obviously it’s nice to test yourself against top players and he’s certainly a top player. He’s obviously a dangerous player as well so he’ll put me to a good test in training. It’ll be interesting to see how he is,” Phillips told Liverpoolfc.com.
“It’s exciting for everyone at the club and all the fans to have him come in. He’s still young as well, so he’s certainly an exciting player to come into the club.”
Reflecting on his loan spell with Bournemouth, the 25-year-old said: “I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed getting back on the pitch regularly again, I think that was important for me.
“It was nice to go in there with that goal of promotion and to achieve it at the end of the season.
“[Playing regularly] is what all players want to do and obviously I had to go away to go and do that. I enjoyed it. It’s important for me to keep doing that at the age I am now. It was a good opportunity and I’m glad that I took it.”
The night Bournemouth clinched promotion from the Championship coincided with Liverpool’s qualification for the Champions League final as they defeated Villarreal in the last four.
Having lifted the Carabao Cup and Emirates FA Cup at Wembley, the Reds were narrow runners-up in the Premier League and European Cup at the end of a remarkable season that included 63 matches.
“I was looking on in support, wishing the lads the best and obviously keeping a close eye on how they were doing,” said Phillips.
“That evening we got promoted I went and checked my phone to see their result, and obviously I was really proud of the boys to see them go far.
“I went out to Paris to support them there and unfortunately it wasn’t to be that evening, but it was still a great campaign to be proud of.”
Looking forward, Phillips’ current objective is to again stake his claim in front of Jürgen Klopp and his coaching staff.
Liverpool will contest two fixtures in the coming week, facing Manchester United at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium and then Crystal Palace in Singapore.
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Asked about his personal aims, the No.47 said: “Get a good pre-season in me, same as always; work hard and make sure I’ve got a good foundation for the season that’s coming up. At the end of pre-season see where I’m at.
“Definitely in my case, but I think for all players, every pre-season is an opportunity for all players, young and old, to show what they can do, stake their claim.
“That’s the way you’ve got to approach it and maintain high levels throughout the pre-season going into the season.”
WATCH: Our interview with Nat Phillips in full