Liverpool FC
Liverpool FC

Klopp: Academy star Woodburn is in the best hands at Liverpool

has outlined the next stage of ’s development, with the Liverpool manager prepared to allow him playing time at every age level.

But the Reds boss has also admitted his star will not only burn bright, but also long, at Anfield.

The hype surrounding the 17-year-old – following his incredible impact on the international stage for Wales – has increased the clamour to see him handed more first team opportunities at Anfield.

Woodburn scored the winner on his Wales debut against Austria last week, before making a telling impact off the bench in the 2-0 win over Moldova on Tuesday.

It caps a remarkable year for the teenager, who became the Reds’ youngest-ever goalscorer in November’s League Cup win over Leeds.

Despite the excitement that surrounds the youngster, Klopp has moved to ask for patience, although he does believe the first team is his destiny.

“From our point of view, it’s clear. It all depends on the player,” he said. “He is a really patient boy, that’s really good – not only in the game but around.

“He doesn’t expect too much. In the morning he probably has a quick look at his passport, ‘Oh, still 17’ – he is a fantastic boy. I know the world around is getting more and more crazy and we help with all we can.

“There are so many stories from the past when very young boys showed up and later you didn’t hear anything of them anymore. It will not happen with Ben.

“I think he is in the best hands here at Liverpool. We will do the right thing; he will play youth, he will play Under-23s, he will play first-team football. The main message is he needs to play football. He trains with us always and then we will decide each weekend where he can play.

“Our target is that we have him in the first team because we like him, we see his quality and that’s the main thing. But for us it’s not too important if it’s tomorrow or in a year, it’s just important that we can use him then. That’s what we try to prepare.”

Woodburn has only been used as part of Neil Critchley’s Under-23s side at club level so far this season, but is expected to be given opportunities with the senior side throughout the campaign, particularly in the domestic cup competitions.

He has now returned to Melwood to train with the first team once more, with Klopp revealing a special nickname he has for his star.

“I heard someone say ‘The Prince of Wales’ – I love it,” he added to Liverpoolfc.com “I said it twice this morning, I’m not sure that he loves it too much.

“It was fantastic. We all know, and maybe we know Ben best, and he did brilliantly for us already. It was a hard start in pre-season, it was not too easy and he couldn’t perform as he did before.

“But in the last two or three weeks he was really in a good way. I saw the games and he had a big impact; that’s really rare for a 17-year-old boy, so it’s a really nice story.”

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