Wales boss Giggs advises Woodburn to put difficult season behind him
Liverpool striker Ben Woodburn has been advised by Wales boss Ryan Giggs to put his troubled season behind him and keep showing his natural talent.
Woodburn spared Wales’ blushes in Wrexham on Wednesday when his injury-time winner secured a 1-0 friendly victory over Trinidad & Tobago – the small Caribbean nation ranked 93rd in the world.
It was the 19-year-old’s first goal in senior football since his sensational debut winner in a World Cup qualifier against Austria in September 2017.
— Wales 🏴 (@Cymru) March 20, 2019
And Woodburn’s delight was evident after a difficult time when his loan spell at Sheffield United turned sour and Liverpool’s youngest-ever goalscorer returned to Anfield to play under-23 football.
“Very often the first loan move just doesn’t quite happen, for whatever reason,” Giggs said.
“Because Sheffield United were doing so well he was in and out.
“But now he’s back, he looks fit. It’s an important end to the season.
“When you’ve got that talent, that doesn’t go away.
“Now he’s got himself in really good physical condition, and he’s a threat.”
Woodburn burst onto the scene when making his Liverpool debut in November 2016 to become the third-youngest player in the club’s history.
He scored on his second appearance against Leeds in a League Cup tie at the age of 17 years and 45 days.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp dubbed Woodburn “The Prince of Wales” after his Austria heroics and sent the teenager out on loan last August to gain further first-team experience.
But Woodburn started only one Championship game in five months at Sheffield United, and failed to score in eight appearances before returning to Liverpool at the start of January.
“Ben has to keep working hard, which he is doing at the moment,” Giggs said.
“He’s at a very good club who will look after him.
“The last few camps, he’s been really good in training. You could see the quality.
“I was dying to give him a game so it was great to see him score, especially late on and persevere like he did.”
Giggs disappointed the 10,000-plus capacity crowd at the Racecourse Ground with his second-string team selection against Trinidad & Tobago.
The game marked Wales’ return to the north for the first time since 2008, but Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Joe Allen were among the senior stars missing ahead of Sunday’s opening European Championship qualifier against Slovakia in Cardiff.
Giggs defended his team selection, saying the Slovakia game was his priority, but he admitted Woodburn’s performance had provided food for thought with Sunday in mind.
“When forwards score, they usually keep on scoring,” Giggs said.
“I said before that I challenged the players to push if you’re not in at the moment.
“Ben will definitely be an option that I look upon for Sunday.
“He has now had four or five games in the (Liverpool) 23s and he looks lean and fit.
“He is talent and he’s a goal scorer, and to have that to call upon if needed is great.”