Caoimhín Kelleher continues to impress but how long will he stay as Liverpool back up?

Pool boss Jurgen Klopp says he’s 'like the blonde version of Ali' but it's tough being number two
Caoimhín Kelleher continues to impress but how long will he stay as Liverpool back up?

Ireland’s goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is back up with Liverpool. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

It seems whenever Caoimhín Kelleher plays in goal for either Liverpool or the Republic of Ireland the same question emerges shortly afterwards.

Should the Cork native now look to leave the Merseyside giants in order to play regular first-team football at the highest level?

Last Wednesday night, Kelleher’s heroics helped the Reds progress to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup with a penalty shoot-out victory against Derby County.

The Mahon man saved three Derby penalties, including one from fellow Leesider Conor Hourihane, to take his overall tally of saves in shoot-outs to six, the most in Liverpool’s long illustrious history.

While it earned him a place in the history books, it also earned him special words of praise from his manager Jurgen Klopp shortly after full-time.

He still has a lot of goalkeeper years to come for him so if he can keep that record it would be exceptional and completely insane numbers. 

"He did really well," admitted Klopp. "He’s exceptional, absolutely exceptional. He came back from holiday and was injured. It took a really long time to get him back in training and back to speed. But obviously, he’s ready now."

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher saves a penalty from Derby County's Lewis Dobbin.
Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher saves a penalty from Derby County's Lewis Dobbin.

But then on Saturday afternoon, Kelleher was back on the bench as Liverpool beat Southampton 3-1 at Anfield.

The former Ringmahon Rangers star watched on as the men currently ahead of him in the pecking order for both club and country - Alisson Becker for Liverpool and Gavin Bazunu for the Republic of Ireland - took their place in the goals at either end of the pitch.

Both keepers would concede last weekend but both would also make a string of brilliant saves to further show the tough challenge Kelleher has of capturing their number one shirt.

It makes that initial question a tough one to answer correctly. He’s clearly ready to be the first choice at a Premier League club but at 23 years of age, he has a long career ahead of him so why leave such a huge club where he is so highly rated?

“First and foremost, with all the things he did so far, he became the goalie he is now,” 

Klopp told reporters during his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“Caoimh is an outstanding goalie, he’s our goalie, that’s absolutely great. A club like us, with all the games we have, needs a goalie of his quality, definitely.

“It’s clear that he has the ambition to be a No 1, but everything must be right.

“Being the Number 1 in the wrong club, all of a sudden you look like you’re not that good a goalie.

“Our style suits him very well because he’s really calm on the ball as well, you can involve him in the build-up play. He’s like the blonde version of Ali.” 

Either way, Kelleher is a brilliant young keeper and this is a nice dilemma for him to ponder.

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