Klopp confirms Liverpool’s Caoimhín Kelleher will start Carabao Cup final

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<span>Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Jürgen Klopp has demonstrated his faith in Caoimhín Kelleher by confirming the second-choice goalkeeper will start next month’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.

Kelleher is Liverpool’s regular selection for this season’s competition and delivered another assured performance in Thursday’s semi-final second-leg win at Arsenal. Despite the availability of Alisson, “the best goalie in the world” according to his manager, and Liverpool’s 10-year wait for domestic cup success, Klopp believes it is crucial for Kelleher’s long-term future at Anfield to have a starting role at Wembley on 27 February.

“Caoimhín will play, if he is fit,” he said. “As a football manager you have to consider a lot of things and one of the things is we consider Caoimhín an outstanding goalie. Not a good goalie, an outstanding goalie, and we want to keep him here. And to keep him you need to make sure of a few things. Before a season you need to think and talk about about the different games he will get.

Related: Diogo Jota double sinks Arsenal and sends Liverpool into Carabao Cup final

“It is all about performing of course. If he didn’t perform on the level he performed then I would maybe think differently. But he has shown he deserves all the trust and faith that we have in him. I didn’t think about it properly, but my idea in this moment is to play him. I don’t see any reason why we should not do that. Caoimhín deserves that. He brought the team there.”

Klopp credits Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach, John Achterberg, with turning “a skinny boy from Ireland standing in this big goal” to a mature and commanding 23-year-old Republic of Ireland international.

“Last week against Arsenal I had to explain to Caoimhín why he is not playing,” Klopp said of the first leg. “I usually do not do that, but it was his competition and I thought Ali needs the game because he was lacking rhythm after Covid. What I really liked was that Caoimhín was not like: ‘Oh yes, I understand.’ He was: ‘What? Why?’ So he matures in all departments. That is the goalie we want.

“This is really the John Achterberg project. When Caoimhín first came here there were not all the people in the club who thought: ‘Caoimhín Kelleher will be the next goalkeeper.’ There was one person: John. If you have to buy this goalkeeper now then it is pretty expensive. Now we have the best in the world and a really, really good one. That is a good situation.”

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