Premier League • England

Liverpool injury dispute over key star continues, as national team boss gets serious over Klopp claims

Stephen Kenny, June 2022

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny has reiterated that he has no recollection Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher suffering injury while on international duty.

The Reds’ back-up stopper has not played this season, with Adrian deputising for Alisson Becker instead. Kelleher’s absence has proved a blow for the 23-year-old following last season’s displays.

The stopper played a big part in helping Liverpool win the Carabao Cup, especially in the penalty shootout in the final against Chelsea.

And while he would not have expected a subsequent promotion, he has not had any chance at all to get on the team sheet.

Kelleher’s absence has proved a mysterious topic, with differing views on the exact point he suffered his problem. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has insisted that the stopper became injured in the June international camp.

Republic of Ireland boss Kenny recently hit back at the German, claiming the injury caught him “by surprise”. And Kenny has again insisted that he has no recollection of Kelleher’s injury happening on his watch.

“[Dr Alyn Byrne, team doctor] has a reputation from being involved in 200 internationals,” Kenny said.

“They have medical notes, extensive notes, on every injury and we have no notes on Caoimhin from that camp. They write everything down and there’s no medical notes, so it’s interesting.”

Kenny added that he hasn’t spoken to Klopp, but that the respective medical teams “have been in constant contact”.

And he moved to cool any potential tension between him and the Liverpool manager.

Kelleher subject of injury inquiry

“If Caoimhin did tweak something, we weren’t aware of it,” Kenny told reporters. “He trained with Liverpool when he went back for pre-season and got injured.”

“We’re fine,” Kenny said of his relationship with Klopp. “We’ve got great respect for Liverpool. I’m sure it’s not an issue and we’ll all move on.”

Kelleher only played twice in the Premier League last term, away at Chelsea in January and in the 5-0 win over Watford.

While he starred in the Carabao Cup, he could not usurp Alisson in the FA Cup, with the Brazilian starring in that particular penalty contest at Wembley.

Liverpool man faces crucial period

Kelleher will no doubt replace Adrian as Liverpool’s second-choice goalkeeper when he is back fit.

He has proved his worth more than the Spaniard and rightly deserves his place as the Reds’ back-up.

However, he faces a defining season as he turns 24 in November.

There is only so long he can go on playing second fiddle to Alisson before he needs to go and advance his career elsewhere.

Of course, injuries may occur and there may be opportunities in the cups for Kelleher to play.

On the flipside, though, last season’s cup double may prove to be a rarity for Liverpool under Klopp and may never happen again under the German’s tenure.

If that turns out to be the case, Kelleher would find his game time massively restricted, despite his potential.

While his first mission is to return to fitness, the Liverpool stopper has to be considering his future further down the line.

Liverpool tied him to a new contract last summer and those terms run out in 2026. From the club’s point of view, they will feel they have protected Kelleher’s value for when the time comes to move on.