In the autumn, Liverpool starlet Ben Woodburn was the man of the moment for Wales, playing and making important contributions while his country tried—but fell just short—of making it to the 2018 World Cup.
And, at the time, another Liverpool youngster, Harry Wilson, was the forgotten man. Six months later, though, and the situations are reversed, with Wilson playing and scoring for his country while Woodburn watches.
“When you’re in and out of the reserves and first team or you’re training with the first team but not playing regular football, it has an effect,” said Wales manager Ryan Giggs when asked about Wilson’s resurgence.
Wilson started and played 71 minutes against China on Friday, scoring his first senior Welsh goal in a 6-0 rout. He then started again against Uruguay and played 72 minutes of a 1-0 defeat to the Luis Suarez-led South Americans.
They were his first appearances for Wales since he was handed his debut in 2013 as Wales’ youngest ever player. Woodburn, while he was at least included in the squad, didn’t make it off the bench for either match.
“Harry [is] seeing the benefits of playing week in, week out,” Giggs added. “You can’t beat playing competitive first team games. You get in a rhythm and that’s part of the reason why I started a lot of the players.”
The question now is whether Wilson, now 21 years of age, can turn those first team minutes on loan with Hull City into a revival of his Liverpool career and perhaps even become a first team regular next season.
Meanwhile, for the 18-year-old Woodburn, it’s hardly the end of the world he’s been passed by an older player getting regular first team minutes. It does, though, suggest getting him some of his own would be worthwhile.