Monday 23 April 2018

Ben Woodburn focus

Teenager Ben Woodburn started for Liverpool in the clash at the bet365 Stadium
Teenager Ben Woodburn started for Liverpool in the clash at the bet365 Stadium

Liverpool handed 17-year-old forward Ben Woodburn a surprise full Premier League debut at Stoke, but the recent Wales call-up only made it to half-time.

Here, Press Association tracks how he fared in those 45 minutes.

POSITIONING Jurgen Klopp stationed the teenager in the number 10 role behind Divock Origi but he seemed to have an element on freedom. At times he joined the Belgian as a second striker, and at others he ran beyond him and sat on the shoulder of the last defender. Occasionally he even drifted left in search of space but the feeling began to emerge that he was simply trying to find a foothold in a game that was progressing at a pace he was not completely comfortable with.

PHYSICALITY Woodburn would have been forgiven for taking a sharp intake of breath as he passed Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron during the handshakes. The pair would be his minders, Shawcross when he pressed directly into attack and Cameron when he looked to play between the lines. The early exchanges were a none contest, the Potters pair easily taking care of business using their greater presence and street smarts. But the Liverpool prospect did not give up and kept plugging away even after requiring treatment for a first-half injury. He dispossessed Cameron and then Joe Allen in the space of one tenacious break upfield and when he shielded the ball from Erik Pieters he could easily have won a penalty as a rash challenge came in from the back. Ultimately, though, his removal at the interval suggested the game was just a little too much for him.

DISTRIBUTION The youngster's pass completion of 92 per cent was one of the higher scores in the index but in reality it was a mixed bag. He produced a couple of well-judged balls and was mindful to bring others into the game rather than plough on alone, but he did not always release the ball quick enough or pick the most incisive path.

GOAL THREAT Liverpool did not do much by way of threatening Lee Grant's goal while Woodburn was on the field and his tumble as he turned his back to Pieters was probably their best chance of netting, had Mike Dean agreed it was a foul.

Press Association

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