Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher will start between the sticks tomorrow night, Pep Lijnders has confirmed (via the club’s official website).
Alisson Becker will be rested for this game but Kelleher gets the nod rather than Adrian. This is a slightly surprising decision but Lijnders confirmed that Liverpool had already decided that Kelleher was the EFL Cup goalkeeper.
Kelleher was given his first-team opportunity when he made his debut against MK Dons in the last round. The Republic of Ireland U21 stopper kept a clean sheet and made one impressive save in particular.
The reason why Kelleher got his cup chance was that Alisson was injured. This meant that Adrian was the league and Champions League goalkeeper and he was rested in the EFL Cup. But rather than give Adrian a go tomorrow night, Kelleher will make his Anfield debut.
Lijnders clarifies goalkeeper situation
Explaining the decision in the pre-match press conference, Lijnders said (via liverpoolfc.com): “For us, Ali is our No.1 – more than a No.1 I would say! We have Adrian, who did an unbelievable job and if something happens with Ali, Adrian is our No.2 and then has to do the job.
“But in this League Cup, it is Caoimhin’s competition. As I said before the MK Dons game, with youth development, with these moments when they are in between the U23s and the first team, consistency is very important. He had a good game and he is preparing for another one. It will be special for him playing at Anfield.”
This is a huge opportunity for Kelleher, who is enjoying a great week on a personal note. On the same day, it was announced that he would start in the EFL Cup Fourth Round and that he had earned a senior call-up to Mick McCarthy’s Republic of Ireland team.
The 20-year-old is a very promising young goalkeeper and Liverpool are thinking prudentially here. While Adrian is the better short-term option, tomorrow night’s experience will prepare Kelleher for a big future at Liverpool.