Loan Review: Where did it go wrong for Ben Woodburn?

Stephen Killen

Blackpool fan Sean McGinlay speaks to Liverpool Transfer Room about Ben Woodburn’s loan spell.

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Liverpool recalled youngster Ben Woodburn from his loan at Blackpool on Monday.

The loan to the Tangerines was his third trip away from Anfield after spells with Sheffield United and Oxford United.

Woodburn missed most of last season for Oxford after suffering a fractured foot.

Lack of playing time and injuries saw him recalled from his spell at Bramall Lane.

His move to the Seasiders gave the Welshman a chance to reunite with former-under 23’s coach Neil Critchley.

However, after joining on a half-season loan his League One spell wasn’t extended.

Liverpool Transfer Room spoke to Blackpool fan Sean McGinlay (@SeanMcSport) about Liverpool’s youngest goalscorer and what went wrong during his spell at Bloomfield Road.

An Exciting Prospect

There was a lot of hype surrounding the 21-year-old as he arrived on the coast.

Upon the October announcement, the arrival of the Reds record holder was greeted with excitement and also disappointment that the spell was only a short-term basis.

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Sean tells LFCTR that he felt that Blackpool would be a good fit for a player of Woodburn’s stature, “We were delighted to have a player of Woodburn’s stature joining us.

He made his debut in a home defeat to Charlton Athletic, just four days after signing along the dotted line.

Sean continued, “Although, in his recent loan spells he didn’t have the best of times, we felt we would be the right club to aid his development and allow him to kick on.”

How did he fare?

He managed 11 appearances under Neil Critchley, starting just three times in Sky Bet League One matches.

He missed the shootout win over Leeds U23’s and their second round exit to Fleetwood Town, as a result of his previous appearances for Liverpool U23’s.

The attacker failed to gain a regular place amongst Critchley’s starters, which was unfortunate for him, Sean believes that he was“unlucky in parts.”

“For instance, after a decent performance against Wimbledon, he returned a positive test for Coronavirus which spelled an end to any positive momentum he was making.” He recalled.

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However, in his appearances, he didn’t offer enough to show Neil Critchley that he was deserving of a starting place. 

He lacked moments of quality in the key moments.

Whereas Keshi Anderson and CJ Hamilton made the difference when they were called upon.

Struggling to make an impact

Under Critchley, he was often deployed as a left-winger or an attacking midfielder.

Accumulating just 414 minutes, Sean explains that the Welshman failed to stand out during his time in Lancashire:

He had small glimpses in his creative play but a lot of the time he faded in and out of games.

He wasn’t able to make the sort of impact you would expect your number 10 to make when you’re on the front foot.

Sean McGinlay on Woodburn’s spell

Correct decision to recall

He burst onto the scene in 2016 scoring in Liverpool’s Carabao Cup win over Leeds United.

He more recently captained the Under 23’s, his future looked bright.

However, with another failed loan spell for Woodburn, his future now becomes unclear.

He has just 18 months on his contract at Anfield.

It just hasn’t worked out for Woodburn but after a couple of relatively uninspiring loan spells.

Woodburn’s final appearances in Blackpool colours came as a second-half substitute in a 1-1 draw with Hull City.

“I’m wondering at what level it will click for him because there is something there,” Sean concluded.

Dream Start! At 17 years, 45 days Woodburn bags in Reds win. ©Liverpool FC

As a result, the Reds will be looking elsewhere for first-team football for the former under-23’s captain.

He made his debut under Jürgen Klopp in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Sunderland.

However, his last appearance for the first team was, as Mohammed Salah’s replacement, in the Reds’ 4-0 win on the final day of the 2017-18 season over Brighton.

Read more by Stephen Killen.

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