Liverpool teenager named in Wales World Cup qualifier squad with Gareth Bale to end England interest

17-year-old Ben Woodburn became the Reds' youngest-ever scorer this season

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Liverpool teenager Ben Woodburn has been included in Chris Coleman’s Wales squad to face the Republic of Ireland in their World Cup qualifier – making him ineligible for England if he plays.

The 17-year-old forward joins the likes of Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey in the 23-man squad for the Group D encounter next Friday night after breaking into the Liverpool team earlier in the season.

Woodburn made his seventh first-team appearance during Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Burnley last weekend and will become the third youngest player to ever represent his country after Liverpool teammate Harry Wilson, who was 16 when he was capped against Belgium for years ago, and Bale himself.

The call-up is particularly significant give that Woodburn was born in Nottingham, making him eligible to play for England, despite growing up in Chester.

Woodburn has been part of the Wales set-up since he was 13 and has represented the country and under-16, under-18 and under-19 level after qualifying through his Welsh grandfather.

He has already made history for the Res this season when he scored in the EFL Cup against Leeds to become the Reds’ youngest goalscorer – beating Michael Owen’s record.

At the squad announcement, Coleman said: “He’s earned this, he’s done very well. He’s done enough and earned his place with us.”

Bale is back involved with Wales after recovering from ankle surgery following his injury playing for Real Madrid at the end of last year, while Ramsey, who has also struggled with injuries of late, is also included.

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Gareth Bale was sent off for Real Madrid recently (Getty)

On Bale, the Wales head coach said: “He’s fit. He’s in good form. He looked good in training. I’m looking forward to getting him back.”

However, Jonny Williams has failed to prove his fitness in time after a shoulder operation, with Emyr Huws and Simon Church also missing through injury.

The Euro 2016 semi-finalists are third in Group D after four games – four points behind leaders Republic of Ireland – and the importance of winning the game has not been lost on Coleman.

“This is one of the biggest games in this campaign,” he said. “This is not a time to experiment. Everyone has earned their place.”

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