Ben Woodburn: Don't pressure Wales and Liverpool striker too soon - Ian Rush

Ben Woodburn is congratulated by fellow Wales forward Gareth Bale after the Moldova win
Ben Woodburn is congratulated by fellow Wales forward Gareth Bale after the Moldova win

Teenage striker Ben Woodburn must be handled carefully despite his eye-catching international debut, Wales and Liverpool great Ian Rush has warned.

Liverpool's Woodburn, 17, starred in the wins over Austria and Moldova that put Wales back in World Cup qualifying contention.

"You don't want to put too much pressure on him," Rush told 5 live.

"He's done really well but when you compare him to Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey there's still a long way to go."

Woodburn scored on his debut against Austria after coming on as a late substitute, then came off the bench again against Moldova to set up Hal Robson-Kanu's breakthrough.

"It's one step at a time but he will learn off those players and they will help him," said Rush.

"People will make sure he keeps his feet on the ground, even though they don't need to."

Ian Rush
Ian Rush helps coach the youth teams for both Wales and Liverpool

Rush is Wales' record scorer with 28 goals from 73 internationals and has worked with Woodburn in both Liverpool and Wales' youth set-ups.

The 55-year-old is looking forward to seeing his young protégée when Woodburn returns to Liverpool after the international break.

"I'll most probably see him when I'm back at Melwood [Liverpool's training ground]," Rush said.

"I'll just say to him 'well done'. Everyone was proud of him, the way he came on and made a difference.

"But what I'd say is: 'This is just the start of it. Sometimes it's easy when you're doing well but take it all on board, take the praise and everything, but you're still developing, there's still a long way to go'.

"The main aim is to get Wales to the World Cup finals and he will be in that set-up if he can do that, so keep his head down and keep on working hard."

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'Two down, two to go' for Wales

Woodburn is the youngest goal-scorer in Liverpool's history, after netting against Leeds in the EFL Cup in November 2016 aged 17 years and 45 days - beating Michael Owen's previous record by 98 days.

But Rush is happy that the talented youngster is being managed carefully at both club and international level.

"Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp loves him but he's not rushing him straight in and I think the same with [Wales boss] Chris Coleman," Rush said.

"There's a danger to throw these young players straight in at the deep end.

"Even though he might be able to handle it he's still developing, getting bigger and stronger, so we've got to be careful how we use him.

"He's coming off the bench and making a difference, where sometimes if you start him straight away and nothing happens after 60 minutes you end up taking him off.

"Sometimes that's not the right idea to do.

"His time will come but at the moment every time he's been asked to do something he's actually done it."

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