Liverpool forward Ben Woodburn receives first Wales call-up

Liverpool's Ben Woodburn has been called up to the Wales squad

Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn has been called up to the Wales senior side for the first time, the Welsh FA have announced.

The exciting Chester-born player has represented Wales at all youth levels, but his global future had been brought into question amid reports of interest from England manager Gareth Southgate.

But Woodburn's breakthrough at Anfield this season - he became Liverpool's youngest-ever goalscorer in November - had led to speculation that England could try to tempt the dual-qualified striker away from Wales.

"When everyone got excited six months ago, saying, 'You need to take a look at Ben Woodburn.' It made me laugh".

"He's been in our system for five years, so we know all about him, he's done well this season". If he is playing for Liverpool in the Premier League, or on the periphery of the squad, it means he is training every day with worldwide players. "He has has earned it".

Although Woodburn joined Liverpool more than a decade ago and has always been regarded as the club's brightest academy prospect, it was that landmark moment against Leeds United in the EFL Cup quarter-finals in November that catapulted him into the spotlight.

"If we want to put him on for tactical reasons, it would be for that, but not because we are anxious about anyone else looking at him", insisted Coleman when asked about the player's inclusion at his press conference.

"This is a massive game for us". There will be no knee-jerk reaction to cap him.

"But it won't be because of anybody else".

"We see Ben as global player for Wales". He has a good future with us.

"England have already stolen my goalkeeping coach, so there is a pattern there!" "They aren't our players, they are contracted to their clubs and can make their own decisions".

"Osh (assistant manager Osian Roberts) has had his finger on the pulse with Under-16s".

" It's not about what game is good to get him in, it's the best squad".

Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale is set to make his 21st successive competitive worldwide appearance, having not missed a qualifier or tournament game since October 2013. He was sent off against Las Palmas and recieved a two-match ban but is due back on Saturday for Real's trip the Bilbao. "He's a Welsh global, he's played for us since a young boy and this is the natural progression for him".

"In fairness to Real Madrid they've been fantastic to work with".



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