It was a hard defeat to take for Celtic against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park last weekend. There weren’t any of the club's players who impressed. There were sadly a few who put in disappointing performances and perhaps most worryingly, we saw a very unconvincing defensive display from Brendan Rodgers' side.
Rodgers didn’t take any chances with Cameron Carter-Vickers on the artificial pitch. The American was rested for the match, with Nat Phillips brought into the starting XI. That change alone was enough to have the fans concerned before kick-off.
The Liverpool player was signed on loan in the summer for the first half of the season. Hopes were high but so far, he hasn’t shown much to be impressed with.
Phillips had a disappointing second half against Hibernian in midweek. And it would be safe to say that he did not put in a convincing display against Kilmarnock either.
Why does Brendan Rodgers play Celtic player ahead of €8.5 million duo in defence?
When Phillips was signed on loan, a number of Celtic's centre-backs were out injured and it was an urgent situation. But the fact that he has never established himself as a starter despite those circumstances speaks volumes.
Phillips does seem to be the cover centre-back for Celtic at the moment. Liam Scales and Carter-Vickers appear to have established themselves as the starting duo in the heart of defence.
With Carter-Vickers out, Scales didn’t seem to settle well in the heart of defence with Phillips. It was the Liverpool loan player though who struggled most.
The surprise is that while Celtic definitely missed the American international, Rodgers has persisted in playing Phillips ahead of the other centre-backs available. It is understandable why Maik Nawrocki and Gustaf Lagerbielke have not played much ahead of Carter-Vickers and Scales. But that doesn’t explain their absence against Kilmarnock. Especially after the Liverpool loanee struggled against Hibernian just days earlier.