Ben Woodburn believes his loan spell at Oxford United is proving a positive step towards his long-term ambition of becoming a regular in Liverpool’s first-team squad.
The midfielder, who celebrates his 20th birthday today, joined the League One side in July on a temporary deal until the end of 2019-20.
And Woodburn has seized his opportunity under Karl Robinson, making 10 league appearances, scoring one goal and assisting four, though a foot injury is set to rule him out until the New Year.
He told the Mail: “I have learned so much at Oxford this season, knowing I am able to play 90 minutes and keep fighting for the team. I have taken a lot of kicks and heavy tackles and shown I'm not lightweight.
“I feel like I have had so much experience and yet I am still only young and learning. Watching someone like Serge Gnabry develop is a big help.
“I saw his four goals for Bayern Munich against Tottenham in the Champions League. When he was 20, he couldn't get a game on loan at West Brom.
“He has shown you can push through if you keep working hard and hopefully I can do something like he's done.
“I am looking forward to this birthday. I'm happy that maybe all these people calling me the young lad will realise I am turning into a man and ready for it. I know what I can do and I have to just show it on the pitch.”
Happy birthday, @BenWoodburn! 🎉 Our youngest ever goalscorer 🙌 https://t.co/VdaBtaBLFj— LFC (Liverpool FC) 15th Oct 09:15
Woodburn’s breakthrough at Liverpool came in the 2016-17 campaign – and he became the club’s youngest ever scorer when he netted against Leeds United in a League Cup tie in November 2016, on what was only his second senior appearance for the club.
In total, he’s figured for the Reds’ first team on 11 occasions in competitive action, but his ambition is to significantly enhance that total over the course of his career.
He added: “I think my eyes are always going to be set on playing at Liverpool. That is my main goal, that is who I grew up supporting and have been for years.
“Harry Wilson did well at Derby last season and is on loan at Bournemouth now, he's a couple of years older than me.
“A lot of managers look at who is trustworthy, who has games under their belt and that's what I am aiming for with Oxford this season. If I am back in the Liverpool squad, I have to show everyone I am ready.”