Why Liverpool forward and ex-Sunderland target is struggling for game time following Championship loan move

Ben Woodburn playing for Liverpool.
Ben Woodburn playing for Liverpool.

Former Sunderland target Ben Woodburn has returned to Liverpool despite being on a season-long loan at Sheffield United.

The Wales international, 19, was strongly linked with a move to Wearside in January, when the Black Cats were managed by Chris Coleman, but decided to stay at Anfield.

Woodburn then signed for the Blades in the summer, but hasn't featured for Chris Wilder's side since September.

Liverpool will no doubt be monitoring the situation, as Wilder is in no hurry to bring Woodburn back into his starting XI.

“Ben’s not a special case at all; we’ve got seven or eight players in the same boat, who can’t get in the team, and he’s no different because he’s come from Liverpool," Wilder told the Sheffield Star.

“He’s a talent, we understand he’s a good player, and he's not done anything wrong. Just as the boys who have been playing haven’t done anything wrong, either.”

Woodburn has been capped eight times by Wales and scored on his debut under Coleman in a 1-0 World Cup qualifying win over Austria last year.

However, the teenager was an unused substitute last week for the friendly game against Spain and UEFA Nations League clash against Republic of Ireland.

He then went back to Liverpool and featured in an under-23s game for the Reds.

However, Woodburn is expected to return to Sheffield United ahead of their Championship clash with Stoke tonight.

When asked to explain why Woodburn had briefly returned to Liverpool, Wilder said: “Ben’s been away with the national squad and didn’t get any minutes there, so we felt it was important that he keeps playing football.

“And there was an opportunity to get him some minutes. He can do all the running he likes up here in training, but there’s nothing like game action and there was an opportunity to get him 65 minutes or so.”

Speaking to the Sheffield Star, Wilder added: “We were keen, Liverpool were keen and Ben was back with us today."