Liverpool teen Ben Woodburn is in Wales squad

Ben Woodburn
Ben Woodburn in action for Liverpool against Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup this season, one of Woodburn's seven appearances for Jurgen Klopp's side
World Cup qualifier: Republic of Ireland v Wales
Date: Friday, 24 March Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Kick-off: 19:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Teenager Ben Woodburn has received a first call up to Wales' squad for their World Cup qualifier against the Republic of Ireland on 24 March.

The 17-year-old has made seven appearances for Liverpool this season and become their youngest scorer.

The Chester-born forward qualifies for Wales through his maternal grandfather and has already played at under-16, under-18 and under-19 level.

Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey are also included after returning from injury.

Manager Chris Coleman's side are third in Group D, four points behind Martin O'Neill's Republic of Ireland, who are top.

Joe Walsh
Cardiff-born Milton Keynes Dons defender Joe Walsh came through the Swansea City academy

Forward Bale, 27, has featured in five games for Real after recovering from ankle injury which kept him out of action for three months.

Midfielder Ramsey was sidelined for a month by a calf injury but has played in Arsenal's last two matches.

Coleman has also included striker Tom Lawrence, who has scored 11 goals during a season-long loan at Ipswich Town from Leicester City.

The only other uncapped player in Coleman's squad is MK Dons defender Joe Walsh, although uncapped Barnsley winger Marley Watkins is named on a stand-by list as Wales have a couple of minor injury concerns.

'Not about England'

Coleman says Woodburn's inclusion is not a spur of the moment decision and is not about keeping him away from England.

"Everyone got excited about Ben when he burst into the Liverpool side and said 'we should be looking at Ben Woodburn', but we've been excited about him since he was 13 years old," Coleman said.

Woodburn won't be daunted by Wales call-up

"He's been in our system for five years, so we know all about him; he's done well this season. We are looking forward to having him on board."

Coleman rejected suggestions England were a factor in the decision to pick Woodburn.

"Absolutely not, that is not the case," he said. "If we want to put him on for tactical reasons, it would be for that, but not because we are worried about anyone else looking at him.

"He has been part of the Welsh set-up since he was a young boy. There will be no knee-jerk reaction to cap him.

"If Ben wanted to go and play for England, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

"None of our players belong to us. They aren't contracted to us. But he's earned this call-up.

"If I thought it was too early I wouldn't call him up because this game is massive for us.

"It's not about what game is good to get him in, it's the best squad. He's a Welsh international, he's played for us since a young boy and this is a the natural progression for him."

Wales squad: Wayne Hennessey, Danny Ward, Owain Fon Williams, Ben Davies, James Chester, James Collins, Joe Walsh, Chris Gunter, Jazz Richards, Neil Taylor, Ashley Williams, Joe Allen, David Edwards, Andy King, Tom Lawrence, Joe Ledley, Shaun MacDonald, Aaron Ramsey, Gareth Bale, Hal Robson-Kanu, Tom Bradshaw, Sam Vokes, Ben Woodburn


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