Liverpool loan Nathaniel Phillips back to Stuttgart 17 days after recall

Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Fabinho all close to a return from injury

Nathaniel Phillips played 90 minutes in Liverpool's FA Cup win over Everton
Image: Nathaniel Phillips played 90 minutes in Liverpool's FA Cup win over Everton

Liverpool defender Nathaniel Phillips has been loaned back to Stuttgart until the end of the season, just 17 days after being recalled to help with a shortage of centre-backs.

The 22-year-old's initial loan at the Bundesliga 2 side, where he has made 11 appearances, was cut short on December 27.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was left with just two fit central defenders - Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez - following injuries to Joel Matip (knee) and Dejan Lovren (hamstring), while potential stand-in Fabinho is also out.

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Speaking on Friday ahead of their 1-0 win at Tottenham, Klopp delivered a positive update on all three absentees, with Matip back involved in light training, while Fabinho and Lovren are expected to return to full training this week and could be in contention for Sunday's home game against Manchester United, live on Sky Sports.

"Joel was not part of all parts of training," Klopp said. "He was outside on the pitch, which looked really good, but then he had to do his own stuff again. Yesterday he was part of the first part of training.

Dejan Lovren is expected back in first-team training this week
Image: Dejan Lovren is expected back in first-team training this week

"Shaq [Xherdan Shaqiri] trained completely normal since he's in. Dejan and Fabinho we expect to be back next week in full training.

"That's obviously good. If that's then early enough for the United game, I don't know but we will see. They work really hard in the moment and they go really through the paces, so that's good.

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"Clyney [Nathaniel Clyne] is in a good way but not available."

After arriving back from Germany, Phillips made his competitive debut for Liverpool in their FA Cup win over Everton on January 5 and was an unused substitute for the Premier League games against Sheffield United and Tottenham.

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