Did Sheffield United ever really want to sign Ben Woodburn on loan from Liverpool this season?
Woodburn arrived at Bramall Lane in the summer, but managed just eight appearances before his year long stay was cut short in January.
The 19-year-old started just two matches and after September 19 played just once. Woodburn’s Championship game time for the Blades totalled 154 minutes.
By mid-October the teenager was back training with the Reds Under-23s, as reported by BBC Sport. United manager Chris Wilder said Woodburn was “not a special case.” He would play just 10 more minutes under Wilder.
Was Woodburn ever first choice?
The Wales international returned to Anfield and the Blades quickly replaced the attacker with the loan signing of Everton’s Kieran Dowell.
In two months Dowell already has more appearances and starts for United than Woodburn. Now Wilder’s latest comments suggest that the 21-year-old was the loanee they wanted to sign all along.
“He has obviously scored for [Nottingham] Forest last year and that caught our attention with what he did,” the 51-year-old told the Sheffield Star.
“He scored against us and we tried to get him in the summer when we lost David Brooks (to Bournemouth).”
Brooks was signed by the Cherries in an £11.5m (Sky Sports) deal. Having seen Dowell score ten times in 43 matches while on loan at Forest in 2017/18, Wilder admits he wanted the England Under-21 international to replace him.
Yet Dowell had potential to break into the first team of newly appointed Toffees boss, Marco Silva.
“He did a really good pre-season,” Silva told the Liverpool Echo.
“We believe in him, we renewed his contract and he has really good quality.”
Dowell made the bench in three of Everton’s first five Premier League matches. However, he’d only played two first team games this term – both in the Carabao Cup – before joining the Blades.
If Dowell had been available in the summer would Woodburn have even been considered?