Liverpool academy graduate Ben Woodburn's hopes of earning his first senior international cap for Wales during their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Serbia on Sunday (11 June) have been ended by injury.

The Nottingham-born teenage forward, who surpassed Michael Owen as the Premier League club's youngest ever goalscorer aged 17 years and 45 days following his strike in an EFL Cup quarter-final victory over Leeds United at Anfield in November, has withdrawn from Chris Coleman's 23-man squad for Belgrade due to a calf issue.

His place is taken by midfielder Marley Watkins, who recently became Daniel Farke's first signing as Norwich City manager on a free transfer after rejecting the offer of a new contract with Barnsley.

The 26-year-old was initially handed his maiden call-up for a training camp in Portugal, only to be subsequently released back to his club along with Exeter City starlet Ethan Ampadu and Cardiff City left-back Declan John.

"Squad update: Ben Woodburn of Liverpool has withdrawn with a calf injury and is replaced by Marley Watkins of Norwich City," the Football Association of Wales (FAW) tweeted on Thursday morning (8 June).

Coleman still named five uncapped players in his final squad for a potentially pivotal clash at the Rajko Mitic Stadium, with Woodburn joined by Tom Lockyer of Bristol Rovers, Everton's Gethin Jones, MK Dons defender Joe Walsh and Wolves' Lee Evans.


Another Liverpool youngster, winger Harry Wilson, also made the cut after becoming Wales' youngest ever senior player with a cameo appearance against Belgium in 2013. The Euro 2016 semi-finalists will be without talisman Gareth Bale against Slavoljub Muslin's Group D leaders after the Real Madrid star collected his second yellow card of the current qualifying campaign in March's goalless draw with the Republic of Ireland in Dublin.

Aston Villa left-back Neil Taylor, meanwhile, will serve the first of an extended two-match ban handed down by Fifa for his woeful challenge on Seamus Coleman in that same contest that earned him a straight red card and left his stricken opponent requiring surgery on a fractured right tibia and fibula.

Ben Woodburn
Ben Woodburn in action for Liverpool during their post-season friendly against FC Sydney