Ben Woodburn has returned to Liverpool, but it is unlikely he stays on Merseyside beyond the end of the month, with a host of clubs expressing their interest.
Woodburn is currently sidelined with an ankle injury sustained last month, but hasn’t been in action since November, when he made his last outing for loan club Sheffield United.
That came with a 10-minute cameo against Nottingham Forest, with his last of just two starts for the Blades coming in August, and his most recent appearance came instead with the Liverpool U23s against Everton.
The arrival of Kieran Dowell at Bramall Lane paved the way for the termination of Woodburn’s loan, and though neither side plan to make a formal announcement, he has now been removed from the squad page on sufc.co.uk.
Given the intensity of the Reds’ challenge in the Premier League and the Champions League this season, it could have been Jurgen Klopp opted to keep him at Melwood, and the Liverpool Echo reported there is “no rush” over a decision.
But the Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe has now claimed the Wales international “will be allowed to move on again for the remainder of the season.”
This comes with an array of Championship clubs touted with a move for Woodburn, who is in desperate need of regular first-team football, having barely played over the past 18 months.
Brentford, Blackburn Rovers and Hull City are all said to be interested in the 19-year-old, but responding to reports two managers have offered wildly contrasting takes.
Rovers boss Tony Mowbray, speaking on Thursday and relayed by the Lancashire Telegraph, insisted there is “no truth at all” in speculation linking his side with Woodburn.
“With total respect to Ben Woodburn, we have invested in a player [in Ben Brereton] who has mobility, can run with the ball, create chances and score goals and is a mobile, agile, type of striker,” he explained.
“If we were going to find a striker it would be more in the mould of a Danny Graham type, a target man, rather than a running wide striker.”
Meanwhile, Hull manager Nigel Adkins was more receptive to the idea of signing Liverpool’s No. 58, as reported by the Hull Daily Mail.
“There will be loads of names [mentioned],” he told reporters.
“Ben Woodburn is a very talented young football player who can play in a couple of positions offensively.”
The significance of Adkins’ praise, there, is that he had already stressed a deal for Middlesbrough‘s Ashley Fletcher was “not going to happen,” with no ruling out of an approach for Woodburn.
There has been no direct word from Brentford manager Thomas Frank regarding the attacking midfielder, but added in his pre-match press conference on Thursday that they “always try to improve the squad.”
After a frustrating half-season in Sheffield, Woodburn’s next move will have to be very carefully measured, and a switch to Hull could be beneficial.
This is chiefly due to the success of his compatriot Harry Wilson under Adkins at the KC Stadium in the second half of last season.
Wilson scored seven goals and laid on a further four in 14 appearances for the Tigers, as staved off relegation, and the hope would be that Woodburn enjoys a similarly productive spell if he joined Hull.