LIVERPOOL: Jurgen Klopp insists he always believed Ben Woodburn could make an impact for his side after the forward became Liverpool’s youngest ever goalscorer at 17 years and 45 days. The Welsh youth international secured the record, previously held by Michael Owen, when he doubled Liverpool’s advantage in the EFL Cup quarterfinal 2-0 win over Leeds United at Anfield on Tuesday night. Woodburn made his senior debut on Saturday when he came on in the dying moments of the victory against Sunderland on the weekend. Speaking at a news conference after the Leeds game, the Reds boss was pleased with Woodburn’s overall performance on the night, but had concerns that the media would build up the youngster too much. “We know what Ben is capable of and what he is already able to do,” Klopp said. “My first job is to help these boys so that they can be the best. “In this case, Ben Woodburn. There’s a lot of things to do, especially to keep the public away as long as possible. That’s quite a difficult thing to do. But on the other hand, we only bring him in because we want to use him. So that means when he’s on the pitch he’s absolutely allowed to score goals, to prepare situations, to make crosses – how Trent [Alexander-Arnold] did, for example.
“So, all good. I’m really happy for him. The only problem is I’m a little bit afraid about you [the media]. That why I’m so quiet on this. Think and do what you want, but don’t write anything – only ‘Goalscorer, Ben Woodburn.’ Done. Quite a challenge! “I don’t think it makes sense that I say the obvious things. So first of all, I said ‘Well done, but it was not too difficult! I would have scored too if I would have been in the situation!’ That’s maybe the truth. All good. “Nothing we say here is important enough that it would help Ben Woodburn or myself. It’s all good. We know how to handle the situation and I know I can say to you whatever I want, [but] if he scores goals then it’s quite difficult to stay cool from your side. No problem. “Tonight it was very important that we could have him on the bench and could bring him into the game, because of our situation in the offensive department. [He was] a very important player for us today and he scored a goal, which makes it more enjoyable.” Woodburn has enjoyed a rapid rise in recent months. He burst onto the scene for the first team in the preseason this summer before he was promoted to the under-23 side at 16 years old prior to the campaign kicking off. The Chester-born Woodburn signed his first professional contract on the day of his 17th birthday, putting pen to paper on a three-year deal — the maximum length a player of his age is allowed to sign. Meanwhile, Klopp was pleased that his much-changed side were able to progress to the semifinals of the EFL Cup for the second consecutive season. In a tight affair with the Championship outfit, Divock Origi broke the deadlock in the 76th minute before Woodburn secured Liverpool’s place in the last four just minutes later. Klopp made eight changes to the team that played on the weekend, once again giving opportunities for youngsters like Woodburn, Ovie Ejaria and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
“How I said a lot of times, we don’t make lineups because we don’t respect the tournament, we make these lineups to win the game,” Klopp said. “We need fresh legs, I can’t change it. Obviously we needed the fresh legs today so it was a mixture of youth, a mixture of experience and fresh legs. It worked well. “It was not too beautiful to watch in the first half, but with eight changes it’s not easy against a deep formation. “We could have created better, we could have been more creative, we could have showed more greed in the last third — that’s all part of the truth, but at the end, I made the changes so I know how difficult it is. “The second half was better. It was difficult for Leeds to stay that concentrated for 90 minutes against our passing game, so you need to do the same long enough and then it’s right at one point. “We tried to change a little bit at half-time because it was a real challenge from the first second and Leeds are really strong. They couldn’t show it tonight how strong they are, that’s the biggest compliment I would say, from my side.”