Jürgen Klopp has dropped a huge hint that Liverpool Academy striker Ben Woodburn is set for a starring role in their EFL Cup quarter-final with Leeds United, insisting he is "mentally ready."
The 17-year-old made his senior competitive debut for the Reds in their 2-0 win over Sunderland in the Premier League at Anfield on Saturday, playing out the final minutes.
Woodburn stole the headlines in pre-season for his goalscoring contributions and has since continued such form into his debut campaign with the under-23s.
With Danny Ings and Philippe Coutinho both out injured and Roberto Firmino struggling with a knock, the Wales youth international could be handed his first ever start for the visit of Championship side Leeds.
Woodburn deserved league debut, says Klopp
Klopp told reporters on Monday that Woodburn is "mentally ready to start a game" and said that he felt it "was a good idea" for him to come on late on against Sunderland because "he deserved it."
While the manager acknowledged that it "was only a few minutes", he insisted "he was ready for it" and added: "It was only after the game that I remembered it is now really difficult to keep him back again. Not for Ben or for me, but for the public."
The German said that Liverpool have "shown the Premier League for the first time" but called it "the best news" that there is "so much time for him to improve and develop" and vowing that the club "will help him."
He's a 'very, very promising player' says Reds boss
With Klopp expected to name a rotated side to take on Garry Monk's men, he declared that should Woodburn feature, it would further represent the hard work of the club's Academy.
The Reds boss labelled the teenager a "very, very promising player" and said that Liverpool "want to use him as early as possible."
"There is no decision on when that will be," admitted Klopp, explaining that is not "because I'm not happy with the [player's] development" but because he has "not decided on the line-up" to face Leeds.
He added that Woodburn "and a few other guys" are "in a really good way" and said that they "sometimes have to show that when they have earned something, they will get something back."
Klopp praised the "work" of the Academy at the moment as "really good" and said insisted there "is a lot of promising stuff happening" and that they "like to have the opportunity to show them that we have seen it."
The boss also added: "Leeds have made a lot of changes in the last few rounds too. I have no idea what team Garry [Monk] will play, but we will prepare for everything."