‘If you call up a 17-year-old, usually you ask his manager’

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Klopp ‘afraid’ of press coverage of Woodburn

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp says he was surprised Wales boss Chris Coleman did not contact him before calling up teenager Ben Woodburn.

The 17-year-old was named in the senior squad for the World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland.

But his club boss has been left perplexed he was not consulted and believes the call-up has come too early.

“Actually, I was surprised about this,” said Klopp.

Nottingham-born Woodburn, who qualifies to play for Wales through his maternal grandfather, has played for Wales at under-16, under-18 and under-19 level.

But Klopp believes he should have been in the loop when Coleman decided to move him up to the seniors.

Klopp added: “I don’t know exactly how normal it is here.

“This should not be a criticism, but usually when you call up a player, a 17-year-old player, I thought it would be possible to call me.

“I’m not sure if he knows him well. He didn’t play in the team so far for Coleman I think.”

‘Should it be now? Probably not’

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Woodburn won’t be daunted by Wales call-up

Despite the fact he does not believe now is the right time for Wales to call on Woodburn, Klopp expects the youngster to deal with the situation.

“Obviously Ben is happy about it, so I am happy about it so that is the first thing,” Klopp said.

“Do I think [Woodburn’s selection for Wales] should it be now? I would say probably not. But is it a problem? No.

“Ben is a wonderful kid and he can deal with it 100%. He understands it all and knows really what he still has to learn and I can understand.”

Woodburn has played seven games for Liverpool this season and became their youngest scorer when he netted against Leeds in the EFL Cup in November.

‘I make my own mind up’

Wales had been urged to go to ‘war’ with England to claim Woodburn, but Coleman says the decision to select the youngster was his alone and Liverpool did not intervene.

“I make my own mind up about a player,” Coleman said after announcing his squad on Thursday.

“I understand when you pick young players then clubs go, ‘Oh, calm down,’ but I make my own mind up.

“No matter how old he is, if he is good enough and I think he has something to offer us and can help us in this challenge then I am going to pick him.

“That’s no disrespect to Jurgen or anybody else who say maybe he’s not [ready], but that’s their opinion.”

Club versus country


Ben Woodburn has played seven games for Liverpool this season

Wales are third in their 2018 World Cup qualifying group and face a crucial tie against the Republic on 24 March and Coleman insists Woodburn “belongs” in his squad.

“He belongs to them [Liverpool], but I’ve got a job to do for Wales and I have to pick my strongest squad,” Coleman said.

“At the minute, from what I have seen, he belongs in our strongest 23. That’s why he is there.”

Meanwhile, Klopp says he is happy to share Woodburn’s development as a player with Coleman.

“I heard the manager said he’s one of the best 23 players in Wales so he needs to be there, so that is his decision – all good,” the Liverpool boss said.

“But now we are two managers who have to make sure that he develops in the right way, because usually it was more my responsibility and now we can share it a little bit so that is good.”