Over the weekend, Ben Woodburn returned to Liverpool to play for the U23s for the second time this season. It means that despite being on loan, he has now played two games for the Liverpool reserves against just ten minutes for Sheffield United.
That is likely to lead to a January recall according to The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce, who says the Reds will bring Woodburn back as soon as the transfer window re-opens and will then seek a new loan destination for the 19-year-old attacker.
It’s an unfortunate situation for Woodburn, who appeared on the cusp of sticking with the Liverpool first team this season but was sent out on loan instead in the belief that regular starting minutes would be best for his continued development.
At Sheffield, he simply hasn’t gotten those minutes—and if he’d stayed at Liverpool he’d have at least been able to train with Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool’s first team. For Sheffield, though, it’s easy to understand why Woodburn hasn’t played.
Through the end of October, they were one of the hottest sides in the Championship, challenging for first with a settled lineup, a situation that made it impossible for Woodburn to even get the chance to impress for his temporary team.
In November they’ve fallen off the pace, drawing twice and losing once in their last three games while dropping to fifth. If Woodburn was their player, now is when his chance would come, but with a January recall on the cards he hasn’t played.
It’s unfortunate, but the simple matter is that loans often don’t work out. Hopefully, whichever club Woodburn ends up at in a little more than a month from now will be able to correct that and give the player the minutes he needs.