Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders claims he would take Nat Phillips and James Milner with him if he “needed to survive in a jungle”.
Lijnders was full of praise for Phillips and January signing Ozan Kabak, with the duo keeping clean sheets in the three games they’ve started together for the Reds.
Kabak was brought in from Schalke and has recently been paired with Phillips, with Fabinho restored to his customary midfield role.
“Nathaniel is an example where determination and respect can bring you, and an example of how collectively this team and staff is working,” Lijnders told the club’s official website.
“He puts his head where other players don’t put their feet. He has a heart like a lion. Probably if I need to survive in a jungle, the first two people I’d choose are Nathaniel and Millie!
“Ozan is a big talent, so much progression is still possible. He adapted fantastically inside our club from a context like Schalke and had an immediate impact with Liverpool FC.”
Phillips has stepped up impressively this season, having looked to be heading for the exit door last summer after a successful loan spell with Stuttgart in the Bundesliga 2.
“That’s absolutely true,” Lijnders said when asked if Phillips’ story is something everyone can learn from.
“It’s not the first time this will happen in our club and not the last, for sure. The passion, the ambition, the love for the game will always make or break you.
“Luckily, we have many stories like that already. The willpower and character was the base of many of our boys to win with us. That gives me confidence that we will be back.”
Phillips has also drawn praise from Jamie Carragher, who labelled the centre-back a “monster” following Liverpool’s win over Wolves last month.
“He played a huge role in the game and he [Phillips] is a monster in the air,” Carragher said.
“So when you talk about what Liverpool lack when other ones are playing, they get a great deal in terms of defending set-pieces and his ability in the air. He’s a real monster in that position.”