Liverpool's U23 boss hails Ben Woodburn's 'great week' with Wales

LIVERPOOL -- Liverpool Under-23s manager Neil Critchley says Ben Woodburn's heroics for Wales in the past week "made the hair on the back of your neck stand up."

Woodburn capped off his international debut by scoring the winner in a crucial World Cup qualifier against Austria on Saturday before providing an assist for the opening goal in the Tuesday night's win over Moldova.

Critchley revealed there was jubilation among the staff at Liverpool's Kirkby academy following Woodburn's exploits on the international stage, but he stressed that the club's youngster ever goalscorer has not yet arrived at the peak of his career.

"He's had a great week, hasn't he?" Critchley said to reporters on Wednesday. "It was a fantastic moment the other night. All the staff were texting each other. It made the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It was like: 'Wow.'

"He scores and you just think that's an unbelievable moment for him. Then last night he had another good cameo off the bench and he did extremely well again.

"But, as you know I'm going to say, he's only 17. He's got so much to do. He's potential, a prospect -- an exciting prospect.

"He will know when he comes back to Melwood and he will look around and think: 'I've got some work to do here as well.' He's like that.

"He comes from a good background, a good family. He's a level-headed boy and he will keep his head down and keep working because that's the way he is."

Critchley, who handed Woodburn his debut at U18 level when he was 15, feels the versatile player shows intelligence way beyond his years.

"He shows great maturity for a 17-year-old, doesn't he?" Critchley added. "I heard Dean Saunders talking about him, saying in some ways he played like a 12-year-old and in some ways he played like a 30-year-old. I knew exactly what he meant.

"He was exciting to watch and he had that youthful exuberance of 'give me the ball, I'll do something.' But he actually played like a 30-year-old -- his decision-making, his intelligence and use of the ball in pressurised situations was brilliant. That shows the mark of the player he could become.

"Doing that for half an hour is just small stepping stones and it's not a career. He's got a long way to go."

Speaking in Hong Kong on Liverpool's preseason tour, first-team manager Jurgen Klopp said it was too early to attach Woodburn to just one position, having played as a central midfielder and forward at times.

Despite Woodburn not being blessed with blistering pace and rather slight in frame, Critchley believes the Chester-born teenager has plenty of time to develop physically.

"He's only 17, he's not a man yet," Critchley said. "He's got a few years of physical development and growth still to come.

"Obviously he's been at Melwood for the whole of last season. When you get the odd chance to see him come down for some of the training sessions before we played Sunderland, it's like seeing your own son or grandson after you've not seen them for a few months.

"You think: 'Wow, he's grown.' You see Ben and you go: 'Look at him. He's filled out looks bigger.' Ben looked like that when I saw him recently.

"Added to that, he's got game intelligence. Yes, he might not have lightning pace of [Sadio] Mane -- not many people have -- but he has different attributes and because of his intelligence, he'll find a way to always have an impact on the game."