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Liverpool's Ben Woodburn has the potential to become a great, maintains Mane

By Carl Markham

Published 01/12/2016

Goal-den boy: Ben Woodburn celebrates his maiden strike
Goal-den boy: Ben Woodburn celebrates his maiden strike

Liverpool's new youngest goalscorer Ben Woodburn, can go on to be a great player, according to team-mate Sadio Mane.

The academy graduate, who at the age of 17 years and 45 days beat Michael Owen's record by 98 days, was just 14 minutes into his senior career when he blasted home in front of the Kop.

His goal secured a 2-0 EFL Cup victory over Leeds and, while Liverpool moved into their fourth League Cup semi-final in the last six years, the focus was on the future and not the past.

"I want to congratulate him. He is a very good player and has a very good future," Mane said.

"I hope he will keep going and work hard and I think he will be a great player. Everyone was happy for him to score his first goal, especially in a big atmosphere at Anfield."

Woodburn, who made his first-team debut with a cameo lasting barely a minute against Sunderland on Saturday, came off the bench to have an impact at Anfield on Tuesday night.

However, in a team of eight changes, it was right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, an 18-year-old academy contemporary of Woodburn, and 19-year-old Ovie Ejaria, making his fourth first-team appearance, who were the stand-out players.

Manager Jurgen Klopp has opened up a pathway to the first team from the academy and engendered an atmosphere in which those teenagers can flourish amid established stars.

Mane believes the youngsters have added an extra dimension to the dressing room.

"We have a great team this season and all the young players are playing confidently and are doing well and the game will become easier for them," he added.

"I think they will help the team to move up."

Klopp has put his faith in a number of youngsters and has been rewarded.

He said: "It's a good moment, but it's difficult too because there's a lot of work to do and a lot of games to play. We have to carry on and that's how it is. Hopefully it stays like this."

Belfast Telegraph

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