Wales to play Liverpool starlet and scupper England

Date published: Tuesday 14th March 2017 4:26

Ben Woodburn: Celebrates his historic goal

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 EFL 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 on S4C’s Sgorio programme.

“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 on Thursday morning to take on the Republic in Dublin on March 24.

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.

Woodburn’s Liverpool team-mate Harry Wilson – who became Wales’ youngest player at the age of 16 years and 207 days when he played against Belgium in October 2013 – is also under consideration for a call-up after impressing at Anfield in recent months.

Wilson, now 19, made his Liverpool debut in the FA Cup victory at Plymouth in January and was also on the bench for the weekend win against Burnley.

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