Sheffield United: This is what Ben Woodburn must do to kick-start his loan from Liverpool

It was a revealing experience for Chris Wilder, who sat through a recording after driving home from Edinburgh, and a chastening one for Ben Woodburn after spending its entirety watching from the bench.

Thursday, 18th October 2018, 4:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th October 2018, 4:23 pm
Sheffield United's Ben Woodburn

But if the on-loan midfielder is to fulfil his potential with Sheffield United rather than drift into obscurity, Tuesday's Nations League tie between the Republic of Ireland and Wales could prove to be a turning point. Not least because Harry Wilson will dominate the excerpts Wilder's squad are scheduled to watch tomorrow morning.

Woodburn and Wilson have experienced contrasting fortunes since leaving Liverpool during the close season, with the latter impressing for this weekend's opponents Derby County while his team mate and compatriot struggles for opportunities.

Ben Woodburn and Harry Wilson on Wales duty

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After deciding the contest with the latest in a series of memorable free-kicks - another helped knock Manchester United out of the EFL Cup three weeks ago - nullifying the threat Wilson poses has dominated Wilder's thinking over the past 48 hours. Meanwhile Woodburn, who arrived at Bramall Lane clutching a glowing reference from Jurgen Klopp, is finding progress harder to come by.

Despite making a slow start to his career with United, Woodburn retains Wilder's support. Indeed the 51-year-old, who chose to attend England under-21's meeting with Scotland rather than travel to Dublin, has been at pains to stress he still expects the youngster to make an impact in South Yorkshire.

But while Woodburn's situation must be placed into context - unlike Wilson, this is his first loan spell - Wilder's decision to use him sparingly confirms United's coaching staff are demanding improvements before considering the youngster for a more prominent role. The same, given his team selection for the meeting with Martin O'Neill's side, goes for Wales manager Ryan Giggs. Learning how to influence matches better, improving his work off the ball, can help Woodburn force his way into United's starting eleven and, on the international stage, prevent him from spending the rest of the season in Wilson's slipstream. The process, Wilder has intimated on countless occasions, begins during training. "There are no days off," he likes to remind, "If you want to play well and achieve."

Woodburn, two years Wilson's junior, has the talent to cement a place in United's starting eleven and surpass his colleague's achievements. But the clues suggest, to translate that into chances, he must showcase it during the week as well as competitive fixtures themselves. 

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder