Liverpool knocked back a Nottingham Forest approach for defensive hero Nathaniel Phillips in January, Football Insider can exclusively reveal.

The Championship big guns made a move for the 23-year-old after he had fallen behind midfield duo Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in the centre-back pecking order in the absence of the senior big guns.

A Liverpool source has told Football Insider that Jurgen Klopp opted to keep Phillips rather than loan him out or sell him permanently.

The Anfield manager was tempted felt he may need the former Bolton youth despite sanctioning late-window signings of Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak.

With injuries still biting hard at Liverpool, Phillips has fought his way back into the team in recent weeks.

He made his third start in four matches in Wednesday’s Champions League win over RB Leipzig in Hungary.

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It was a performance that had Klopp subsequently in raptures.

He hailed Phillips as an aerial “monster” after displaying “absolutely incredible” concentration levels to snuff out the considerable threat of the German team’s attack.

It was the defender’s Champions League debut as he continues to accumulate vast top-level experience.

Phillips has been one of the beneficiaries of the defensive crisis that has robbed Klopp of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip for most of the campaign.

He has now made eight starts among 10 appearances for Liverpool this season and is likely to be set for an extended run in the team.

It has been reported in some quarters that Phillips’ contract expires this summer.

But the source explained that is not the case, as he signed a “long-term deal” with the Merseysiders in the summer of 2019 before joining Stuttgart on loan.

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