The qualities that convinced Liverpool to give “special” Caoimhin Kelleher first-team chance

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Liverpool believe Caoimhin Kelleher is ready to make an impact at first-team level, and his debut is set to come on Wednesday, at MK Dons in the League Cup.

Kelleher is one of a host of youngsters in contention for a senior bow at Stadium MK, along with the likes of Harvey Elliott and Rhian Brewster.

The Irishman should fill in for Adrian, who will be rested for the first time since he replaced the injured Alisson, playing each of the Reds’ eight games so far this season.

This will, therefore, see Jurgen Klopp‘s third-choice goalkeeper become starter for the night, against a side currently 15th in League One after a 1-0 loss at home to Southend United on Saturday.

It may be a relatively humble beginning for the 20-year-old but Liverpool have high hopes for Kelleher, having opted against sending him out on loan in the summer, as they did with fellow academy stopper Kamil Grabara.

Speaking ahead of the game, Pepijn Lijnders indicated Kelleher would start against MK Dons, and explained how, were it not for a freak hand injury suffered while on his post-season break, he would have been further along already.

“He was in the under-16s [when I was in charge],” the Dutchman recalled.

“We didn’t let him get out on loan at the start of the season because we felt he is ready to be involved in our goalkeeper setup.

“He was injured at the start, so that was difficult.

“We wanted him to have a super pre-season, a good pre-season to feel the team better and play more games for us, with the last line as well.

“He looks good now. He’s ready for it, that’s for sure.”

ANN ARBOR, USA - Friday, July 27, 2018: Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during a training session ahead of the preseason International Champions Cup match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at the Michigan Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Lijnders provided in-depth praise for both Brewster and Elliott elsewhere in his pre-match press conference, and went into similar detail in describing Kelleher’s qualities.

He highlighted his ability with the ball at his feet as “what makes him special,” which could arguably see him compared to Alisson in his outlook.

“He’s a boy with unbelievable speed, reactions, he’s good on the line,” Lijnders continued.

“What he has and what makes him special, in my opinion, is his buildup play. He’s calm on the ball, understands the game, can play inside, can play outside.

“There’s a calmness over him, even in one-vs-one situations. He’s a talented goalkeeper.

“But again, [he will make the] next step at the right moment in time.”

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