LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 19, 2017: Liverpool's Ben Woodburn during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Ben Woodburn ‘closing in’ on Sunderland loan as Chris Coleman eyes “hunger” of youth

Sunderland manager Chris Coleman would prefer to give opportunities to eager youngsters as he eyes the loan signing of Liverpool’s Ben Woodburn.

Woodburn has made just one 44-minute appearance for the Reds so far this season, instead turning out for the club’s U23s and U19s sides.

He was included as a substitute for Monday’s 2-1 win away to Burnley, but failed to make it onto the pitch either that night or his other stint on the bench at home to Huddersfield in October.

His options have been increasingly limited as Jurgen Klopp prefers summer signing Dominic Solanke as his backup striker and a raft of more established options in midfield or out wide.

It has long been rumoured that he could leave the Reds on a temporary basis in January, with Sunderland one of his oft-mooted destinations.

According to the Mail, he is now close to securing a six-month loan to the Stadium of Light.

This comes as Coleman, who previously managed Woodburn for Wales, overseeing the teenager’s goalscoring debut in September, seeks the vitality of youth this month.

“Give me an 18, 19, 20-year-old who is climbing with a bit of fight and fire in his belly, I’ll take that all day long,” he told reporters on Thursday.

“I’ve seen some players who have been around the block kidding themselves, thinking they still have that bite, that burning desire, but maybe they’ve lost it a little bit.

“Finance has softened them up. Maybe they’ve got a perception of themselves that is actually not true.

“But I don’t care, 17? 18? If you’re ready and capable, come here.”

BIRKENHEAD, ENGLAND - Sunday, August 20, 2017: Liverpool's Ben Woodburn during the Under-23 FA Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Liverpool and Sunderland at Prenton Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Any loan deal for Woodburn would be contingent on the 18-year-old playing regular first-team football, with some of his other academy team-mates suffering away from Merseyside.

Ryan Kent is expected to end his season-long spell with SC Freiburg early this month after making just seven appearances in the first half of the season.

U23s striker Toni Gomes has already returned to Kirkby after a dour stretch with Forest Green Rovers, having played 12 times including five starts.

Woodburn is arguably the biggest talent in Liverpool’s youth ranks at this stage, and rewarding him with a new five-year contract back in October, the club have recognised that.

But without any openings on the senior stage at present, his development may well benefit from time elsewhere.

Sunderland are mired in a relegation battle in the Championship, and the fight for survival could provide Woodburn with a much-needed vigour as he seeks a long-term role under Klopp.

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