Reds defender returns to Stuttgart on loan


Liverpool have allowed defender Nathaniel Phillips to rejoin Stuttgart on loan just 17 days after he was previously recalled.

Centre-back Phillips originally joined German second division club Stuttgart on a season-long loan from Liverpool last summer and  made nine appearances in Bundesliga 2 during the first half of the season.

However, the 22-year-old was recalled from that loan spell on December 27, as Liverpool were dealing with something of a defensive injury crisis at the time, with Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Fabinho all on the treatment table, leaving Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk as the club’s only fit and senior central defenders.

Phillips was quickly handed his Liverpool debut during their FA Cup third-round victory over Everton on January 5 and he also featured on the bench for the recent Premier League games against Sheffield United and Tottenham.

However, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp confirmed ahead of Saturday’s victory over Spurs that Matip had resumed light training following a knee injury, while Lovren and Fabinho are expected to return to training this week following respective thigh and ankle issues.

The trio’s impending return to first-team action appears to have led to Liverpool’s decision to send Phillips back to Stuttgart for the remainder of the season, as his playing opportunities would be limited if he were to remain at Anfield.

“Nathaniel Phillips has returned to Stuttgart on loan until the end of the season,” a Liverpool statement read.

“Liverpool and Stuttgart have now reached an agreement that will see the 22-year-old return to spend the remainder of the current campaign with the 2.Bundesliga outfit, for whom he clocked up 11 runouts in all competitions in the first half of the season.”