Another day, another great injury story. Liverpool’s totem poles are falling more and more frequently and there was even more angst for Jurgen Klopp on Tuesday night.
Alisson Becker, the world’s best goalkeeper, has joined Liverpool’s growing injury list with a modified hamstring that is expected to keep him sidelined for the next fortnight. He is expected to be back for the high profile clash with Tottenham on December 16, but no one at Anfield will take that for granted.
Alisson, like Virgil van Dijk, is irreplaceable. Liverpool were forced to negotiate a three-week spell in October without the Brazilian and his replacement, Adrian, did little to reassure his defenders.
Liverpool’s Alisson Becker could be out for next fortnight after tweaking his hamstrings
Rookie goalkeeper Caoihim Kelleher (middle) impressed on Champions League debut
The 22-year-old (right) won plenty of praise in what was a high-pressure game to start
When Adrian was last seen in Amsterdam in October he was nervous and reckless and at one point found himself at the end of a verbal volley from Joe Gomez, usually dialed in, for being too brash. This is why the selection of Klopp’s squad for Ajax’s visit was so important.
Klopp isn’t opposed to the idea of giving young players a chance but, even still, it was a great show of faith in Caoihim Kelleher’s ability to hand over the gloves in Alisson’s absence.
It wasn’t a date to give experience to someone, it was an evening to define Liverpool’s European campaign.
Kelleher has always been well regarded by Liverpool’s coaching staff, his attitude is exceptional and he has been involved with the squad on several occasions over the past two years, but it seemed like an important night for the youngster from Cork. He did not disappoint.
Becker missed Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Ajax on Tuesday night
Therefore, Jurgen Klopp called on rookie keeper Kelleher to step in for Liverpool
It would be wrong to say that Ajax steadily dotted Liverpool’s goal from start to finish, but when they got closer they found Kelleher alert and ready to ward off danger, reaching out at the right time and settling the things.
His decision making was sound – the way he rushed to retrieve a loose ball and then play it 40 yards to Sadio Mane was particularly impressive – and his saves were equally impressive, denying the same man, Noussair Mazraoui, of each side of half-time.
As good as those saves were, they were usurped in the final minutes as he was well positioned and had strong arms to turn down veteran Klass-Jan Huntelaar, whose head was firm and precise, at close range.
More than anything, Kelleher was sane and calm and at a time when Liverpool need him at the back, he may well have secured him a first Premier League appearance this weekend against Wolves.
Klopp, more than anyone, will have been encouraged by the way Kelleher handled the pressure. If he needed any advice on how he’d done, he got to the final whistle when his manager rushed over to him and wrapped him in a bear hug. It had been well deserved.
Alisson is expected to be back in time for the top-of-the-table clash with Tottenham on December 16