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Ben Woodburn Is “Still a Young Boy”

At least that’s how Liverpool Under 23s manager Neil Critchley sees it.

Liverpool v Brighton and Hove Albion - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

It feels like a lifetime ago since Ben Woodburn scored his first Liverpool goal.

That was in the League Cup back in 2016. Since then, Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States, Theresa May failed to get a majority at the general election she decided to call, seven new Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been made, and Liverpool got to the final of the Champions League.

All is not lost, though, according to Liverpool Under 23s manager Neil Critchley. Though things have been tough for him recently, Critchley is confident that the Wales international will come through this period all the stronger for it.

“Every young boy’s pathway to becoming a Premier League footballer is different,” Critchley told the Liverpool Echo.

“It’s not all going to be the pathway that Trent Alexander-Arnold took. By his own admission, Trent had a bit of fortune at times.

“Ben might have to go via a different route. You only have to look at the England team currently and the amount of players who had a number of loans when they were looking to establish themselves.

“Ben is still a young boy – he’s still eligible for the UEFA Youth League competition. He’s going through that rollercoaster ride and as long as he knows we’re here to support him that’s fine.

“He doesn’t always share his thoughts openly, but if you ask him he’ll give you an honest opinion and that’s what I like about him.

“He obviously had a bit of a bad time at Sheffield United and got an injury towards the back end of that loan spell. He wasn’t quite fully fit around January time so going back out on loan didn’t happen for him.

“He’s very grounded, calm and level-headed. That will be of huge benefit to him going forward. There’s no denying it’s been a tougher period for him but in six or 12 months’ time we might look back on it as a time that benefited his career hugely.”

Here’s hoping. The path from being a promising young player to a top professional footballer is a fraught one. You can have all the talent in the world and the odds are still stacked against you. We know that Woodburn has the ability, but now we need to see if he has everything else.

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