Saturday 19 January 2019

Liverpool kid Ben set for Wales call

Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn
Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn

Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn could join Wales' World Cup campaign against the Republic of Ireland next week - and end doubts over his international future.

Woodburn became the youngest scorer in Liverpool history - at the age of 17 years and 45 days - when he netted in the 2-0 League Cup victory over Leeds in November.

His Liverpool debut came as a substitute against Sunderland in November, and he has now made seven appearances.

The teenager has yet to start a Premier League game, but produced an impressive cameo off the bench in the Reds' 2-1 triumph against Burnley on Sunday.

"He's knocking on the door now," Wales assistant manager Osian Roberts said of Woodburn.

"What's definite is that there are a lot of young players in this group doing that. And we need that. We're really pleased with them.

"A lot of them have already been in our camps for a week at a time to get that experience, so they can make that step when the chance comes.

"It's important we have that freshness as we move on."

Chester-born Woodburn also qualifies for England but has been in the Wales set-up since the age of 13.

Woodburn captained Wales at under-17 level and has also won under-19 caps. Last November he was part of a Wales U19 side which beat their England counterparts 3-2 at Bangor.

It is understood England would be interested in Woodburn joining their set-up, but making a competitive appearance for Wales at senior level would seal the teenager's international allegiance to the Euro 2016 semi-finalists.

Wales boss Chris Coleman will consider the decision before he officially names his squad tomorrow morning to take on Martin O'Neill's men at the Aviva Stadium on Friday week. Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale and Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey are both available after recent injuries.

Huddersfield goalkeeper Danny Ward has also recovered from a leg injury and on-loan Ipswich midfielder Jonathan Williams has stepped his recovery from a long-term shoulder problem.

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