Jurgen Klopp has admitted he may have to allow Caoimhin Kelleher leave Liverpool on loan, but he insists the club have no intention of selling their back-up keeper.
Klopp trusted Kelleher with the gloves for the Carabao Cup final on Sunday and the 23-year-old ended up scoring the winning penalty. The Cork-born stopper was fancied in goal, despite Alisson being fully fit.
Liverpool boss Klopp, who had started Kelleher in three of the previous rounds in the League Cup, made a big call. It was a decision wish Jamie Carragher criticised ahead of the Wembley date. But ultimately Klopp was vindicated with Kelleher putting in a faultless display as the Reds won on penalties.
However, that was only his eighth start in all competitions this season. And in fact he has played just twice in the Premier League this term.
That has led to calls from his homeland in Ireland that he needs more first-team football to progress.
Former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given thinks that Liverpool should send Kelleher on loan.
He claims the shot-stopper is in “a bit of predicament” and said last month: “He’s not a kid anymore. 23 is an age where I think he should be playing regular first-team football.”
Kelleher has made just two senior appearances for his country. He currently sits behind Manchester City keeper Gavin Bazunu, who is on loan at Portsmouth.
‘Absolutely no intention to sell him’
Klopp has always maintained the Kelleher is his No.2 keeper and believes Alisson is the best in the world.
But Kelleher could push for temporary switch in the summer, which would put Klopp in an awkward situation.
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Klopp said, via the Daily Mirror: “For young goalkeepers it’s of course about development, and Caoimh developed here incredibly well.
“There’s absolutely no intention to sell him or something like that or give him a loan. Not at all.
“We need a strong number two. Winning a trophy, will that help [keep him]? You’ll have to ask Caoimhin that.”
Kelleher, who arrived in Liverpool’s academy in July 2015, only signed a new contract until 2026 last summer.
And the Liverpool boss insists there is a “long-term plan” for Kelleher, but also accepted his future will depend on the development of 19-year-old Brazil keeper Marcelo Pitaluga.
Kelleher future dependent on Pitaluga
“He has here a long-term contract and we have a long-term plan with him, but of course we want to help the boy as well become the best version of himself.
“That’s what we did so far and that’s what we will continue to do as well.
“Maybe there is a year he will have to go on loan, I’m not sure it will be next year or maybe a year later. It depends a little bit on Marcelo (Pitaluga), he is already on a good way.
“We have to judge that situation. Adrian is still here and doing an incredible job. We will see.
“But you need the quality we have here and if we get weaker if he wants to go somewhere then we don’t have the chance to do that.
“If we can keep the quality, then we can talk, but that’s different,” added Klopp.