Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for Nat Phillips after his stint at the back on Saturday, while admitting that the emergency defender was not exactly the most graceful player around.

Phillips, 23, made his first Premier League start against West Ham alongside Joe Gomez, as the Reds continue to dealwith an injury crisis that hasrobbed the Premier League champions of Virgil van Dijk, Fabinhoand Joel Matip in recent weeks.

The new-look defence got off to a rocky start when Pablo Fornals opened the scoring just 10 minutes inbut Liverpool rallied to take a 2-1 victory, with goals from Mohamed Salah and substitute Diego Jota sealing three points.

Phillips spent last season on loan in the 2. Bundesliga with Stuttgart honing his talents, and Klopp was happy to see the youngster step up when his side needed him.

“He’s a brilliant guy, smart guy, intelligent, everything. He’s not easy on the eye, he’s not Messi but who cares?” the manager joked toMatch of the Day.

“In the air, he’s a monster! He was incredible.

“For the first game, I think everyone can imagine how nervy that must be after a long wait. It’s a crazy story, three years ago he was on his wayto America to college.

“Twelve Championship teams wanted him and to me it was clear he was going, and I was fine with that – and it didn’t work out for whatever reason, and it’s great! Tonight he was spot on, helped the team incredibly.”

Klopp was also pleased to see Jota make an impact off the bench, scoring what proved to be the winner five minutes from the end.

“We fought really hard to sign him. We didn’t need to convince him too much, but we had to fight for it,” he added.

“He’s an exceptional talent. He has the speed, physicality, technique, he’s both-footed… He’s much better than I thought he would be and that’s really impressive.”

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