LIVERPOOL'S management team have paid tribute to rising star Caoimhín Kelleher ahead of the Carabao Cup final on Sunday against Chelsea.
The Cork man, who played almost every game in the competition this season for Jürgen Klopp’s side, is in line to start the decider at Wembley Stadium.
This is Liverpool’s first domestic cup final since 2016 and expectations are high at the club following their recent successes in the Champions League and Premier League.
Kelleher, who played against Chelsea in the Premier League last January, will be the front-line for the Reds, as they look to end a 10-year domestic cup drought.
“We want to keep him as long as somehow possible, knowing that, from our point of view, the best goalkeeper in the world is our number one,” Klopp told the Liverpool Echo.
“Caoimh is an exceptional goalkeeper and we want to keep him here. And for that, he needs games.
Pep Lijnders, Liverpool’s assistant coach, also spoke highly of the shot-stopper from Cork.
“I was coach of the U16s when he signed and we saw from the start he was all the things he is showing now,” he said.
“A healthy pathway to the 1st team is about faith and patience. If I speak about Caoimh, I have to speak about Adrian too. He saved us twice at 0-0!”
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson also praised Kelleher ahead of his Wembley debut on Sunday.
“I think he has been outstanding. He is a fantastic lad, very level-headed. He is learning from probably the best keeper in the world, which will always help him. He has always had that calmness about him, which I really like. It will be a big moment for him,” he said.
Kelleher will be going into the game well experienced from big games, something which goes back to his days at Presentation Brothers College and Ringmahon Rangers.
At Liverpool, he first broke through during the club’s run to the quarter finals of the 2019/20 Carabao Cup. He made three appearances in that season’s competition and even saved a penalty to knock Arsenal out in the fourth round at Anfield.
He fully stepped up to the senior team last season, as he made his debut in the Premier League and Champions League. This term, Kelleher made the Carabao Cup his own with excellent displays against Norwich City, Leicester City, and Arsenal.
He even saved three penalties during the Reds run to Wembley, two of which were in a shoot-out against Leicester City last December in Anfield.