Caomihan Kelleher could play a key role in Liverpool’s title hopes

Sport

Liverpool are lucky to have Caomihan Kelleher. Not many Premier League clubs have a second-choice goalkeeper as impressive as the Reds’ number two. Kelleher was crucial in the Carabao Cup final triumph over Chelsea and was once again central Liverpool’s dramatic 1-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp reportedly sent Kelleher’s match-worn shirt from the Carabao Cup final to Ringmahon Rangers, the team that gave the goalkeeper his first opportunity in the sport. ““To everyone at Ringmahon Rangers. Thank you for sending us Caoimhin,” the accompanying note from Klopp read. “He’s done you proud.”

As good as Kelleher has been for Liverpool over the last three seasons, his long-term future could be away from Anfield. The 25-year-old has been linked with several suitors including Celtic and Newcastle United and there is a growing sense Kelleher will need to leave Liverpool to become a first-team goalkeeper at another club.

For the time being, though, Kelleher is playing an important role in Liverpool’s Premier League title challenge. With Alisson Becker currently sidelined through injury, the Republic of Ireland international has been given a platform to demonstrate his ability. As a shot-stopper, there aren’t many better than Kelleher in the English top flight.

In possession, Kelleher has also greatly improved recently. Alisson might be one of the best ball-playing goalkeepers in Europe and Kelleher has clearly learned a lot as the Brazilian’s understudy. Indeed, the Irishman is growing in confidence with the ball at his feet and that has helped Liverpool keep their identity when Alisson has been unavailable. They can still play out from the back.

“For a club like Liverpool, the gap between the first and second goalkeeper can not be big,” said Klopp after Kelleher’s latest eye-catching performance in Saturday’s narrow away win over Nottingham Forest. “There must be quality because the football demands are too big for any ‘keeper to play four years in a row in all competitions.”

Most expect Alisson to be out of action until the end of March, but Liverpool know they can count on Kelleher as his deputy. Sunday’s title clash away to Manchester City will be the toughest test faced by the British goalkeeper. It will be the biggest match he has ever played in, yet Klopp has no reason to doubt Kelleher’s ability to handle it. He is good enough for this level.

Liverpool face a crossroads in their recent history with Klopp set to depart Anfield this summer. Xabi Alonso is the favourite to replace the German this summer and the former midfielder would arrive on Merseyside with many of his own ideas. There could be a significant amount of squad turnover before the start of the 2024/25 campaign. Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk are speculated to be considering their futures.

Kelleher might decide to move on in search of more consistent first team football, but Liverpool would surely want to keep the 25-year-old. Klopp has confirmed talks with Kelleher have already taken place. “It’s completely normal with players who are ready,” said Klopp. “The most important thing was we had to help him on the next step of his development by playing more games.”

If Kelleher ends up leaving Liverpool at the same time as Klopp this summer, his role in a title-winning season could make him an icon. There’s no need for Liverpool to rush Alisson back into action such is the form of his understudy. Having started six Premier League matches this season, Kelleher would receive a winner’s medal were Liverpool to win the title and he would deserve it.

Author: Mark Hayes