Ben Woodburn has returned to Liverpool early after a disappointing loan spell with Sheffield United failed to bear fruit.
The young attacker joined on loan in August and was originally supposed to see out the season in the Championship, hoping to gain consistent game time within the first-team setup in order to get his development back on track.
A season full of struggles for Ben Woodburn
A career based on moments, such as becoming the youngest goalscorer for Liverpool against Leeds in the cup, Woodburn has struggled to get his once promising career back on track and the latest setback leaves him in a precarious position for the future.
The 19-year-old made just eight appearances for Sheffield during his five-month spell, registering the same number of minutes as he did for Liverpool’s Under 23’s – an indictment of just how far short the loan move has fallen.
Despite not featuring regularly in the Championship, United boss Chris Wilder had previously insisted the Welshman would have benefitted greatly from his time at the club:
“It’s part and parcel of football and, no matter what happens, Ben will be all the better for his time with us. You have to learn about all aspects of it, the good and the adversity, to have a long and successful professional career. He hasn’t done anything wrong.”
A crucial month ahead...
However, having now returned to Liverpool for the remainder of the season, Woodburn finds himself in a precarious position, desperate for game time in a bid to develop and fulfil upon his potential. Ovie Ejaria, who also saw his loan cut short this term has since won himself a second move to Reading F.C., a route the 19-year-old may soon find himself taking.
What’s certain is that Woodburn is now embarking on a crucial month that’ll either see him remain at Liverpool and largely feature in the Under-23s set up, particularly given Liverpool’s defeat in the FA Cup third round or move to pastures new, with first-team opportunities not likely to be on the agenda.
Indeed, a trio of Championship clubs have expressed interest in acquiring his services, namely Blackburn Rovers, Brentford and Hull City, all of whom could benefit from a surge in attacking options during the second-half of the campaign. For what it’s worth, Jurgen Klopp continues to be very positive about Woodburn’s future and his faith in the Welshman could yet save his career on Merseyside.
For now though, Woodburn desperately needs some game time.