Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard has been impressed with the professional attitude of Wales star Ben Woodburn, and has made him his captain at youth level.
Woodburn became the youngester goalscorer in Liverpool’s history when he came off the bench to score against Leeds United in the EFL Cup quarter final last season.
Despite making nine appearances for the Reds’ first team last campaign, Woodburn has only made one 45-minute substitute appearance so far this – despite impressing whilst playing in World Cup qualifiers for Wales earlier in the month.
Jurgen Klopp’s decision not to feature the youngster in his first team plans has been Gerrard’s gain, with the former-England captain making Woodburn his captain for his side’s UEFA Youth League under-19s squad.
“I think Ben needs to play at the moment so if Jurgen doesn’t need him at first-team level it’s an excellent opportunity to come and play with his friends who he came through the system with; be the captain and leader in this team and set the example,” said the former Liverpool captain.
“I am pleased with Ben because his attitude and mentality when he comes down to train at the academy is 10 out of 10. That gives everyone a lift.
“His mates are so happy to have him around and he is smiling and playing around with them so it is a great mix.
“We all know Ben is going to play different types of football this year, he knows that and is happy with that.
“The challenge is when he comes down to this level can he approach it like a first-team game and so far he has been excellent.
“I think the reason we are getting positive performances is because everyone is bouncing off him.”
Woodburn has worn the armband for Liverpool’s three matches in the UEFA Youth League, where they are top of their group after two wins, and Gerrard said he had earned the right to do so.
“He deserves that responsibility,” he added.
“He has good knowledge having been around the first team for a year and he has had some international experience so he is further down the line than all of these players.
“I also know he is a positive influence around the dressing room.
“I haven’t just given Ben the captaincy because he is Ben Woodburn, he has got it on merit and he will lead by example in his performances.
“He has done that in training and he has also done it in the games so we are really happy for him.”