At the start of the season, Liverpool sent their two most promising young attackers to the Championship in search of playing time. Harry Wilson’s loan spell at Derby has gone about as well as anybody could have hoped. Ben Woodburn’s is another matter.
He made ten appearances for Sheffield United but was only given a two starts. He scored no goals and recorded no assists. There seemed clear unhappiness on both sides of the deal—Liverpool over him not playing and Sheffield over expectations he should.
It’s no surprise, then, that his loan can now be talked about in the past sense, and while Liverpool are not expected to announce his return, it is now being widely reported that the 19-year-old forward is back at the club and will take part in training next week.
However, while the club expect to take their time on deciding Woodburn’s next destination, there is expected to be a next destination. He may spend a week or two back training with Liverpool, but then he will be heading out again in search of playing time.
Blackburn Rovers, Brentford, and Hull City have all shown interest in taking him for the second half of the season, and wherever Woodburn ends up the priority will be making sure he’s in a position to play week in and week out after the Sheffield disappointment.
There, he found himself behind incumbent players in a side competing near the top of the table and for a manager disinclined to tinker with a lineup that was working no matter that he would have agreed to playing time commitments to bring him in.
This time around, Woodburn will need to go to a club with either an obvious hole that he can slot into or whose manager is in a position to embrace the kind of lineup tinkering that would give him a chance to play.