What happened to Ben Woodburn?

By Jack Bryant

On the 29th of November 2016, Liverpool beat Leeds United 2-0 in the EFL Cup. A 17-year-old Ben Woodburn scored the second for The Reds, making the teenager Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer. He even scored on his Wales debut a year later. The hype surrounding the Welsh wonder-kid was huge, but nearly three years to the day of that night at Anfield he finds himself on loan at Oxford United in League One. 

The Dream Breakout Season 

Woodburn was given his chance because of his excellent performances in the Premier League 2, he scored eight and assisted six in 15 games. After his goal against Leeds Klopp awarded the 17-year-old more first-team chances. He featured in three FA Cup games, starting all of them. Woodburn also got a chance to make his Premier League debut in the 2016/17 season. He made his debut in a cameo appearance as a substitute in the 90th minute against Sunderland. The Welshman was brought on in the dying minutes against Leicester and West Ham. He was lucky enough to play 30 minutes against Burnley and 45 against Stoke. Woodburn failed to score or assist in any games following his debut goal against Leeds. 

Debut Goal for Wales 

The following season the 17-year-old made his senior debut for Wales, it couldn’t have gone any better. Woodburn scored the winner for Wales in a 1-0 victory over Austria. It was a stunning strike from outside the box into the bottom left corner. This only increased the hype surrounding the Welshman. 

Quiet Season for Liverpool 

Injury hampered Woodburn’s progress at Anfield in the 2017/18 season. He only made a combined 17 appearances in the Premier League 2 and the UEFA Youth League. The 18-year-old had a total of eight-goal contributions in those 17 games, a record poorer than he managed the season before. Woodburn also only made two appearances for Liverpool’s senior team that season, he failed to score in both games. 

Failed Loan at Sheffield United 

Klopp sent Woodburn out to Sheffield United for the first half of the 2018/19 season. He appeared off the bench in the Blades’ first five games but he failed to make an impact. He only made two more substitute appearances for Chris Wilders’ side, even failing to make the bench for a number of games. He only started one game in his stint in Sheffield, an EFL Cup first round clash against Hull City. Hull won on penalties. Woodburn came back to Liverpool for the second half of the season, scoring two and assisting three in seven PL2 games. 

Fallen to League One 

Woodburn is now 20 years old and has been loaned out to an even lower division. He started the season well scoring one and getting five assists in his first 13 games for Oxford United. The Welsh international even started their first 10 games, most of which in the no.10 role. Woodburn was finally getting minutes at senior level and has found his best position, but his development was yet again hampered by injury. He suffered a metatarsal fracture in October and could possibly be out for the rest of 2019. 

What next for Woodburn? 

Hopefully he recovers from his injury quickly and gets back to playing for Oxford. If Woodburn continues his performances before he got injured, he could get another crack at the Championship. Harry Wilson has showed great improvements on loans in the Championship, and is now a regular on loan at Bournemouth in the Premier League. If Woodburn stays injury free he could follow in the footsteps of his fellow Welsh international.

The image of Ben Woodburn by Fleets complies with the Creative Commons License.

The image of Anfield by Ruadiah Gillies complies with the Creative Commons License.

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