Premier League • England

Keane names Liverpool benchwarmer who ‘should be’ starting more, while admitting obvious catch

Caoimhin Kelleher, Adrian and Alisson Becker celebrating with Liverpool

Caoimhin Kelleher is capable of being Liverpool number one, according to the club’s former Irish striker Robbie Keane.

Kelleher has been with Liverpool since 2015, when he arrived at their academy. His senior debut came in September 2019 and to date he has made a total of 17 appearances for the club.

However, only four of those have been in the Premier League. In contrast, he already has eight caps for his national team, the Republic of Ireland.

Approaching his 24th birthday, Kelleher remains in a dilemma over his Liverpool future. He is unlikely to dislodge Alisson Becker as Jurgen Klopp’s first choice any time soon.

But the club are well aware of his quality and remaining potential. Therefore, letting him go might be something they would come to regret.

Indeed, Keane – himself formerly of Liverpool and the Republic of Ireland – believes that Kelleher “should be” a starter, if it weren’t for the ability of Alisson.

Keane told Liverpool’s official website: “He’s certainly a goalkeeper that should be a No.1 but when you’ve got a world-class keeper in front of you like Alisson, he’ll just have to bide his time.

“Definitely very impressed with him. We’ve been very lucky in the Irish team that we have really good goalkeepers.

“I’ve definitely been impressed with Caoimhin, just the way he plays – how comfortable, how calm he is in possession of the ball, he has a real presence about him.

“As I said before, if he didn’t have someone like Alisson in front of him, you’d imagine he possibly could be No.1.”

Time not necessarily on side for Kelleher despite Keane claim

Kelleher is under contract until 2026 with Liverpool, who clearly still believe in him for the long term.

That said, Alisson is tied down until 2027, so Kelleher could face a long wait if he is to take over from the Brazilian eventually.

For now, he must simply keep pushing Alisson for his place. Kelleher could continue to make the most of opportunities that come his way in cup competitions, for example.

Last season, he started the EFL Cup final and ended up scoring the winning penalty in a shootout against Chelsea. Occasions like that have proven that he can be useful to Liverpool, so he will be hoping for more.

His immediate focus, though, will be on recovering from an injury that has kept him out for the first few games of the season anyway. Once he is available again, he will be able to reclaim his role on the bench instead of Adrian.

Anything regarding the long term will only be able to become clear in time.

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