Jurgen Klopp insists there will always be opportunities for young prospects in his team after another noteworthy contribution from Ben Woodburn.
The German’s side rounded off their pre-season in style on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Athletic Bilbao, in which Woodburn produced a moment of fine individual brilliance to restore the lead for his team.
Liverpool’s youngest ever goal scorer put the Reds 2-1 up just before the hour mark when he fired home from the edge of the box after some excellent build up play from Dominic Solanke.
It served as a welcomed reminder of the teenager’s sheer natural ability as his perfect touch fooled two defenders and opened the space for him to direct a left-footed strike beyond the Bilbao goalkeeper.
Discussing the 17-year-old’s efforts, Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “For a young player, in my team there will always be space, but it’s about the player. You saw in the first five or 10 minutes, Ben struggled.”
“It’s been a hard pre-season for him, he’s still only 17, turns 18 in October, so we try to keep him out as much as possible because we have to treat him like a 17-year-old boy.”
“He’s doing really well and everybody can see his skills, but he struggled in the beginning [today], then he changed the game with a nice goal and he was in the game and played really well. That’s how it is – young players have these ups and downs.”
Woodburn enjoyed a breakthrough 2016/2017 season as he was handed a number of first team opportunities thanks to his standout performances for the U23s.
He is expected to build on that over the next year with the club’s busy schedule likely to ensure he earns more minutes in cup competitions and also potentially in the Premier League.
To be playing with so much confidence at this stage bodes well for a young man who still has plenty of room to develop, both physically and tactically.