MX23RW : Monday, February 18 05:00:46

Struggles with Blades could be making of Ben Woodburn, says Giggs

The 18-year-old became Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer in November 2016.

Ryan Giggs has backed Liverpool striker Ben Woodburn to emerge a stronger player and person from his Sheffield United loan troubles.

Little over a year ago, Woodburn was the toast of Wales having scored a precious World Cup winner against Austria just five minutes into his international debut.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp even hailed Woodburn as ‘The Prince of Wales’ after his swift rise to prominence, and the teenager seemed set to break into the first-team picture at Anfield on a regular basis.

Wales v Austria – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Cardiff City Stadium
Ben Woodburn made a dramatic introduction to international football scoring just five minutes after coming on in a World Cup qualifier against Austria (David Davies/PA)

But Woodburn, who became Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer at the age of 17 years and 45 days when he netted against Leeds in the EFL Cup in November 2016, was loaned out to Sheffield United and failed to make the impact expected of him at Bramall Lane.

Woodburn, who turns 19 next week, has started only once in the Sky Bet Championship and has yet to score in seven appearances for the Blades.

“I’ve got no concerns regarding Ben’s quality, I’ve seen it in training in the last camp,” Wales manager Giggs said.

“He’s just not getting regular game-time at the moment.

“Sometimes it works out on loan, sometimes it doesn’t – but this could be a good thing.

Denmark v Wales – UEFA Nations League – League B – Group Four – Ceres Park
Wales manager Ryan Giggs believes Ben Woodburn will emerge a stronger person from his tough time at Sheffield United (Tim Goode/PA)

“When you go through difficult times, which he is at the moment, and you come through it, sometimes you are a better player and a better person.

“The quality is definitely there and it’s up to Ben to make the most of that. It’s only him that can do that.”

Woodburn is part of a fresh-faced Wales squad that hosts Spain in a Cardiff friendly on Thursday before taking on the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League five days later.

David Brooks heads into the international break in good form, having scored in his last two Premier League appearances for Bournemouth.

Nottingham Forest v AFC Bournemouth – Pre Season Friendly – City Ground
David Brooks has impressed in the Premier League since his summer switch to Bournemouth (Mike Egerton/PA)

On-loan Derby midfielder Harry Wilson and Chelsea teenager Ethan Ampadu have also caught the eye, with Giggs keen to promote the young talent in his squad.

“Brooksy had a good pre-season and it’s like I always say, when you get your chance you’ve got to take it,” Giggs said.

“He’s done that and it’s great to see. We’ve got these talented players and it’s great for me as a coach to have that.

“You saw Harry’s goal against (Manchester) United and it’s hard not to get carried away with Ethan because I think he can be anything he wants to be.

“He is only 18 and he’s not playing regularly, so you have to take that into account.

“But what a player and character to have – a manager’s dream. I know that he loves coming away and playing for his country, and that’s a massive plus for me.”


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