Ben Woodburn weighs up long-term Hearts future and considers what he's missed at Liverpool
Ben Woodburn could have had a front row seat as one of the greatest Liverpool side’s of all time served up one of the finest seasons.
But the 22-year-old Welshman, whose Liverpool contract expires this summer, has no regrets about joining Hearts on loan and hasn’t ruled out extending his stay in Gorgie into next season, with the promise of European football very tempting.
His parent club are still in the hunt to end the season with the League Cup, FA Cup, Premier League title and the Champions League honours but Woodburn is more focused on playing his part in the Scottish Cup final than what is happening at down south.
“Sitting around watching them do things, probably not playing, isn't really going to benefit me. I have got to focus on myself, be selfish,” he explained.
“As much as it would be amazing to be a part of and obviously I would learn from the top players, I think for me right now it is best to just try and play as many games as I can.
“Especially with the last few seasons I’ve had, it was definitely the right choice to come and play games.
“There have been ups and downs this year. But I feel in a good place right now. The team is too, obviously we have got the Scottish Cup final which we’re all looking forward to. I’m just buzzing to finish the season, hopefully on a high.”
And, while he hasn’t been able to tap into the experience of guys like Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino et al this term, his football education has been overseen by the likes of Hearts captain Craig Gordon.
“I don’t think there is ever a point where you can stop learning from players. You do have to take things into your hands at times, but I always like asking players their opinions.
“We’ve got Craig Gordon here, who is probably one of the best professionals I’ve ever seen. It’s been great to learn from him and I’m sure I’ll carry on trying to do that.”
Vying for first team recognition, he has learned how to remain resilient and focused even when he is not in the starting line up.
“I think definitely the biggest thing I have improved is keeping my standards high and training 100% when I’m not in the side. Just so when I am given that opportunityTURN TO PAGE
to play I am ready. I’d say that’s my biggest improvement this year.”
It means that, if called upon, he should be ready and willing to contribute to the quest for Scottish Cup final glory against Rangers on May 21.
“It’s going to be a really tough game, they’ve got some good players. But I believe we can win,”
He says that Rangers’ progress to the Europa League final will have altered perceptions of the Scottish game, though, admitting he has been surprised, since journeying north. Which is why he wouldn’t rule out staying, if the club follow through on manager Robbie Neilson’s stated desire to retain his services, especially with Hearts’ European involvement secured.
“Europe’s massive, isn’t it? That’s another big experience, playing abroad and playing in different countries and different atmospheres. It’s going to be amazing. I’d be looking forward to it a lot.”