While Ben Woodburn and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been forcing themselves into Jurgen Klopp’s first-team plans, Harry Wilson continues to bash at the door. And with his 28th goal of the season nestling in the back of the net on the weekend, the noise he’s making is getting louder and louder, with the volume surely threatening to alert his German manager now.
A technically adept winger with a fierce left-foot, Wilson is certainly causing a stir behind the scenes and has been on the radar of fans of the club since his Wales debut at the age of 16 back in 2013. The Dragons’ decision to hand him a few minutes of action vs. Belgium appears to have been merely an exercise to ensure his international allegiance is with them for the future, but that in itself speaks for his quality as a footballer. However, he has just as many appearances for Liverpool (one) to his name so far, which is rather surprising given Klopp’s tendency to lean on youth. Indeed, Woodburn and Alexander-Arnold started against Stoke in Premier League action against Stoke recently, while Ovie Ejaria was a regular inclusion in matchday squads earlier this season. Wilson, the club’s U-23 captain, though, has had to content himself with an FA Cup outing away at Plymouth back in January.
Perhaps a victim of Liverpool’s lack of European football, Wilson may have been given more game time in another season. Alas, matches have been relatively few and far between for prospects and with Wilson down the queue given the emergences of Ejaria and Woodburn last summer and Alexander-Arnold’s long-talked-about talent, he’s had to wait patiently, with this summer likely to be defining for him. The aforementioned youngsters all featured and impressed during Klopp’s build-up to his first full season at the helm at Anfield and it would be a shock if Wilson is not given the chance to do the same in a few months’ time.
Now 20, he’s no longer a wonderkid, so it feels like this coming pre-season will be defining for Wilson. Although by no means on the scrapheap, the Wrexham-born attacker doesn’t have time on his side to the extend Woodburn does at a youthful 17 years of age, but he can take heart from Kevin Stewart’s emergence under Klopp, with the holding midfielder not getting his chance until he was 22. There is no concrete cut-off point for a footballer, yet it’s hard to see him establishing himself at Liverpool if his big break doesn’t come soon, with the talent already at the club likely to be added to before competitive action in 2017/18 kicks off, while other emerging players such as Rhian Brewster will continue to push behind him to populate a popular zone of the pitch.
Wilson does, however, have the talent. With a wicked left foot and the ability to drift inside, he seems well-suited to Klopp’s preferred 4-3-3 set-up. Injuries in recent weeks have shown too that there is a lack of depth and even with additions the added number of games Champions League or Europa League football will bring will afford more opportunities, especially during the early rounds of the domestic cups. A good pre-season, then, might get Wilson onto the fringes of Klopp’s plans and from there anything is possible – after all, who predicted Woodburn would be starting Premier League matches when he was in and out of the summer team of 2016?
Wilson’s 28 goals might be enough to earn himself a shot, but it’s this coming off-season that the hard work will really begin.