Jurgen Klopp described Nat Phillips' Premier League debut as a "wow" performance as he earned the man of the match award in Liverpool's 2-1 win over West Ham.
Phillips, brought in to replace the injured Fabinho as central defensive injury problems forced Klopp's hand, was integral to Liverpool's narrow victory, claiming the man-of-the-match award from Sky Sports co-commentator Jamie Carragher.
The 23-year-old was close to a move to the Championship early in October, and was therefore not included in Liverpool's Champions League squad, but registered a match-high nine clearances against West Ham in an assured top-flight debut.
Klopp told Sky Sports: "The way we defend - Nat Phillips, wow! I couldn't be more happy. Before the game I asked him if he's nervous, he said no, I said: 'I would be!' Because it keeps you awake from the first second.
"He was confident, did his stuff, and played a really good game."
Asked if he agreed with Carragher's MOTM award, Klopp added: "100 per cent. Jamie was a defender, maybe he can remember his first game for Liverpool, it's a big thing, and for a guy like Nat who is exceptionally intelligent, and was already on his way to America three years ago to study at college, now he plays tonight for Liverpool, it's a really nice story."
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Carra: Phillips right in the frame
Speaking after the game, Carragher was impressed with Phillips' aerial presence, as he restricted Hammers striker Sebastien Haller to scraps throughout.
Carragher also believes that if Joel Matip is not fit in time for the huge clash with Manchester City on November 8, live on Sky Sports Premier League, Phillips has put himself in the mix for a starting spot.
"It was what he did aerially. What Fabinho and [Joe] Gomez lack is domination aerially, and when you play against some teams, not necessarily the top teams, but many teams will look to set pieces, direct balls, crosses into the box, second balls, and Liverpool didn't deal with that at all against Sheffield United, and that's what caused them big problems.
"But today, that header at the end from a corner, one of the last kicks of the game, to be the leader and make sure you get your head on it, normally that would be Van Dijk's role. That was a vital header, and it won Liverpool the game really.
"I love the maturity he showed in the game.
"I think Rhys Williams will now play against Atalanta in midweek, and it remains to be seen whether Matip will be back before the Man City game on November 8. He has that aerial ability too, he's a decent size.
"But Phillips has put himself right in the frame now. If Gomez and Fabinho play together, there's nobody who is really going to attack the ball and be that dominant figure aerially. Matip can be that, certainly Rhys Williams has showed that, and certainly Nat Phillips did today."
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Phillips: Huge occasion for me
Phillips himself, speaking with Sky Sports after the game, said it was a dream come true to make his debut, and the aerial battle with Haller suited his game.
"It's massive, something I dreamed of growing up. To have that opportunity tonight was huge tonight for me and my family. Thursday on training the gaffer mentioned it to me. I've just made sure I've stayed prepared in case the opportunity came.
"I think it was important for me to just do the basics early on, settle any nerves I had, not try to complicate things. I really enjoyed it, it was a tough aerial battle, but I'd say that's one of my strengths.
On Carragher's MOTM award, Phillips said: "Obviously that's a huge compliment, especially coming from him, a Liverpool legend, so really happy to hear that, and thank you Jamie!"
Liverpool now go to Atalanta in the Champions League on Tuesday night at 8pm, before going to Manchester City in the Premier League at 4.30pm on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
West Ham host Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday night at 8pm.