Ben Woodburn has had a hell of a week. Having come off the bench to salvage a World Cup Qualifier win for Wales on his international debut, he followed that up with another stellar substitute performance on Tuesday, setting up Hal Robson-Kanu’s go-ahead goal in Y Dreigiau’s 2-0 win over Moldova. That makes it one goal and one assist for the 17-year old, in an international career that has lasted all of 50 minutes.
Performances like that — from a player who also holds the record as Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer — might lead Reds fans to surmise that Woodburn will have a significant role to play with the first team this season, yet Woodburn has not featured in any of Jürgen Klopp’s five matchday squads this year.
It makes perfect sense too, because the Anfield outfit sports one of Europe’s most terrifying front lines in Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, and the trio is backed up by the likes of Philippe Coutinho, Dominic Solanke and Daniel Sturridge. The Reds’ attacking depth is impressive enough that it forced Belgian international Divock Origi out on a season-long loan, and expecting the cherub-faced Welshman to contribute significantly to the offense at this point is likely too much, too soon.
Former Red, Craig Bellamy agrees.
“I don’t believe that Ben Woodburn needs to be more involved with the first team at Liverpool,” ex-Wales international said following Wales’ win over Moldova. “He’s 17, he’s got plenty of time, and the club know what they are doing with him.
“I’m completely fine with their plan for Ben – he’s a kid who is learning his trade, and doing well enough.”
The eight-iron savant continued: “These next few years are the most important period in a young player’s career, and I know he’s in really good hands. Liverpool think a lot of him, and they’re going to keep progressing him, but not too quickly.”
Words of wisdom from a man not necessarily always possessed by both at the same time. Bellamy is entirely right, though, and fans who are expecting to see a lot of Woodburn in red this season might find themselves disappointed as the year passes. Good things come to those who wait, however, and hopefully, Liverpool’s patient approach culminates in a long and successful Anfield career for the Welsh prodigy.