What else do we need to know about Liverpool’s latest European debutant Caoimhin Kelleher? And will he stay on the team while Alisson is injured?
The 22-year-old conceded seven on Saturday as Liverpool’s Under-23s were beaten by Man City, but Kelleher kept a clean sheet as Liverpool beat Ajax 1-0 on Tuesday night, with Brazil’s Alisson being absent for up to two weeks due to hamstring injury. .
The involuntary goalkeeper – who is Kelleher?
Kelleher, the younger brother of Wrexham defender Fiacre Kelleher, a former Celtic academy defender, was only making his fifth start for the club. Kelleher’s previous four appearances were in National Cup competitions, the last of those to come in the FA Cup against Shrewsbury Town last season.
From Cork, Ireland, Kelleher moved to Liverpool in 2015 at the age of 17 to the Irish side of the Ringmahon Rangers despite interest from Aston Villa and Blackburn two years earlier.
Kelleher actually started out as a striker, but played into the goal when the Ringmahon U15 side were running out of goalkeepers, and he didn’t look back. It has only been three years between Kelleher playing his very first game in goal and signing for Liverpool.
Surprisingly, he is yet to be loaned out by Liverpool, although they have had Championship interests in January and summer. Instead, Liverpool opted to send Polish U21 international Kamil Grabara on loan to Danish team AGF Aarhus.
Kelleher has played 10 times for the Republic of Ireland Under-21 team and was first named to the senior squad in November 2018, but has yet to secure his first cap.
Kelleher’s former Ringmahon coach Eddie Harrington explained in 2018 to the Cork echo that nothing frightens the goalkeeper, and that having himself been an attacker, he could enter the minds of the opponents.
“Nothing bothers him,” said Harrington of Kelleher, who would score “20 or 30 goals per season” up front. “He won’t let mistakes get to him.
“He used to tell us he could read a passing striker because he was so good at scoring himself that he almost knew where they were going to put him as such. His feet were excellent. ”
Why did he play for Adrian?
Klopp’s decision to make his Champions League debut at Kelleher before established number two Adrian raised eyebrows, but the goalkeeper has been solid throughout.
Explaining his decision to pick Kelleher, Klopp said it was thanks to Kelleher’s natural ability on the ball.
Kelleher’s passing accuracy was 71% on Tuesday night, compared to 65% on average for Adrian in his three Premier League and Champions League appearances this season.
“I really think Adrian did a fantastic job for us, he kept a lot of clean sheets, played everywhere,” Klopp said. “But now we needed Caoimhin Kelleher’s natural playing ability.
“We needed that for Ajax’s pressing, we needed his chips from him in the half-spaces and that sort of thing.
I really think Adrian did a fantastic job for us, he kept a lot of clean sheets, played everywhere. But now we needed Caoimhin Kelleher’s natural playing ability.
“He’s a good scorer as well. We made this decision, but you never know how they will cope. I am really happy with his calm and his quality.
“At the end of the day, it’s about keeping the ball out of the net and he’s done it twice and he’s done it exceptionally. He will sleep very well tonight or not at all. ”
Will he play in the Premier League?
Next game for Liverpool is Wolves at Anfield at 7.15pm on Sunday night, and Kelleher is the favorite to keep his place in the squad in a game where Liverpool are likely to have more ball.
It’s clear the fans want Kelleher between the sticks on Saturday as well. Adrian’s high-profile mistakes in Alisson’s absence earlier this season and the 2019/20 campaign mean confidence in the Spaniard is low.
But Klopp can get away from what he and his goaltender coach John Achterberg see in training; Klopp has made a record 24 starting XI changes in the Premier League this season, and strong performances in the Champions League haven’t always come together with a starting spot this weekend.
Nat Phillips started Liverpool’s win over West Ham at the end of October, just days after Rhys Williams settled down comfortably when Fabinho was injured against Midtjylland, so even with a long list of injuries, the eleven Klopp’s starting point is a guess.
But there is apparently no resentment on Adrian’s part, with Kelleher revealing on Tuesday night that he is firmly supported by his two goalkeeper teammates.
“I didn’t see Ali yesterday (Monday) because I think he was gone, but I got a text before the game just to say good luck to me,” he said.
“Adrian has been a huge support. He said to me: ‘I am with you 100% and I support you no matter what.’ Getting that from him was really kind of him. ”
Kelleher: The teammates make it easy for me
As well as looking confident on the pitch, Kelleher looked confident on camera as he congratulated his teammates for making passing options “easy” for him on the ball.
Talk to BT Sport, He said: “It was amazing for me to make my Champions League debut, and obviously the most important thing was to get the victory and the quality.
“It’s pretty easy for me to be honest, because the players in front of me, when I get the ball, make easy choices for me, so they make my decision so much easier.
“We’re not here just to participate, we want to push every day and try to play as many games as possible.
“My phone has been skipping since I entered!” Many thanks to all the support and messages I have received. ”
Dec 5: Wolves (h)
Wed Dec 9: Midtjylland (a)
Sun 13 December: Fulham (a) – live on Sky Sports
Wed Dec 16: Tottenham (h)
Saturday Dec 19: Crystal Palace (a)
Sun Dec 27: West Brom (h) – live on Sky Sports