Sheffield United: Why Chris Wilder and Jurgen Klopp are both keeping their fingers crossed about Ben Woodburn’s Wales prospects

Ben Woodburn has struggled for opportunities of late
Ben Woodburn has struggled for opportunities of late

Ben Woodburn's hopes of facing a Spain side including the likes of Sergio Busquets, Sergio Ramos and Cesar Azpilicueta have been boosted after Ryan Giggs, the Wales manager, confirmed Gareth Bale is a doubt for tomorrow's friendly in Cardiff.

The Sheffield United midfielder was preparing to play a bit part role at the Principality Stadium after Bale and former Bramall Lane youngster David Brooks also reported for international duty earlier this week.

But with Giggs admitting Bale will not be risked unless the groin injury he sustained during Real Madrid's defeat by Alaves has healed sufficiently, Woodburn could now be in line to win his ninth senior cap. 

“Sometimes it's not easy, especially for the likes of Gareth, they're in the middle of the Champions League, so there's a midweek game, and at Real Madrid you have to win every game,” Giggs said.

"It's just getting that balance right, how many minutes he plays, whether he misses a game, and what's best for us and Real.

"Obviously, ideally, I want him to play every minute of every game. We do a lot of work between camps logging the minutes certain players have played. Then we are trying to get it right regarding training and game time."

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

Both United and Woodburn's parent club Liverpool will be hoping Giggs' comments are not simply an attempt to deceive his opposite number Luis Enrique given the teenager's lack of game time since joining Chris Wilder's squad on loan.

With Mark Duffy cementing his place in Wilder's first choice eleven, Woodburn was again ommitted from the team that climbed to the top of the Championship table following Saturday's win over Hull City. Both Giggs and Wilder have insisted that being forced to fight for a starting role, rather than simply being handed a jersey, will provide invaluable experience. Nevertheless, Wilder would prefer Woodburn to enjoy some senior football before United attempt to consolidate their position ahead of the Christmas period.

Despite the two men's best efforts to paint Woodburn's situation in a positive light, facing a Spain team led by the combative Enrique would be more beneficial to the 18-year-old's development than learning the hard way about Wilder's selection policy.

“I’m not talking about those who are not here,” Enrique replied when asked why only one Barcelona player has been called-up. "It’s not a taboo subject but I’m not going to talk about them.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

“That’s a question from the press, but nobody on the street asks me these things. They want Spain to win. Here are the 23 players on the national team, which is my team. It’s not about the clubs."

Wales manager Ryan Giggs

Wales manager Ryan Giggs