Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn was given his first call-up for the Wales senior national team today, with manager Chris Coleman calling the 17-year-old attacker a player with a bright future for both club and country and insisting he earned the call on merit.
“He has done well this season,” said Coleman. “He is one of the boys knocking on the door. We see Ben as an international player for Wales, he have since he was a young boy and we expect him to be going forward. He has a good future with us.
“He has done good things at Liverpool. If he is playing for Liverpool in the Premier League, or on the periphery of the squad, it means he is training every day with international players. He won’t be daunted by playing with international players, he does it every day.”
Wales, with Woodburn in the lineup, will take on Ireland next Friday in a World Cup Qualifier, which could mean nothing more than a bench appearance for the youngster and a chance for Coleman to watch him first-hand in training.
Even if that’s all the international break is, a first senior call-up is still a noteworthy milestone for a player who has represented Wales at every youth level since he first entered their international set-up at the age of 13, but Coleman insists he isn’t calling him up just to keep England at bay.
“If Ben wanted to go and play for England, there is absolutely nothing we could do about it,” Coleman added. “But because he burst on the scene for Liverpool, he scored on his debut, it makes me laugh. Don’t tell me about this kid, I’ve known about him for five years.
“He has done enough. It’s the natural progression, that’s how I see it. We weren’t getting excited about Ben, we already knew about him. It was other people.”