Cork’s Caoimhín Kelleher set for Liverpool debut in Carabao Cup

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Caoimhín Kelleher is poised to be handed his Liverpool debut in this evening’s Carabao Cup tie away to the MK Dons.

The Cork native has been understudy to Adrian during Alisson’s absence between the posts.

Jurgen Klopp is likely to freshen things up for the Reds after their 2-1 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, with Kelleher expected to be among a group of youthful replacements for tonight’s cup tie.

Liverpool assistant Pep Lijnders feels Kelleher has all the attributes to make the step-up to a starting role.

Lijnders said: “He’s a talented goalie and with all talented boys it’s about in the right moments giving the right opportunities in the contact stuff, when they are with the senior players around, when there is something at stake.

“That can really give them the next step and the confidence to grow.”

He went on to say the 20-year-old would have already played more games had he not suffered an injury in pre-season.

He said: “He was a little bit unlucky in pre-season, otherwise he would have played already more games.”

There also could be a long-awaited bow for Rhian Brewster, the 19-year-old who in 2017 helped England win an Under-17s World Cup at which he was the top-scorer with eight goals.

Lijnders described Brewster, who was an unused substitute at Stamford Bridge, as a “complete striker”.

He said: “I was his coach when he came from Chelsea (as a 15-year-old).

“That he is already on the bench away at Chelsea, for me, is massive. It makes us all proud. If he does start or doesn’t start tomorrow, he is a player who is every time more ready.

“He had a long injury (Brewster had ankle and knee surgery in 2017-18), it was not that easy for him. But he has goals in him, he has technique, good physically.

“He is a complete striker, a typical nine who can come first post, score with his head, turn in the box, play one-on-one, can score a scruffy goal as well, unbelievable shot. And a good boy. But let’s see.”

Winger Xherdan Shaqiri has been ruled out by a small tear in his calf, but midfielder Naby Keita, who has been sidelined for seven games by a groin issue, is fit to make his return to action, while Sadio Mane (knock), Divock Origi (calf) and Alisson Becker (calf) are unavailable.

Lijnders stressed – with regard to the line-up against the League One Dons – that “we will put a team in place that for me is a Premier League team”.

And he said: “We want to compete in each competition, attack each competition. We work so hard to be in this situation where we can compete in each one.

“For me, cup competitions are the soul of football because it represents a past like where smaller clubs can play against Premier League clubs as an example, and give historic games to fans.

“For me, the cup competitions is something special.”

The Dutchman was also asked about Klopp claiming the men’s coach award, Alisson taking the men’s goalkeeper award and the Champions League winners’ defender Virgil Van Dijk finishing second among the nominees for the men’s player award at The Best FIFA Football awards on Monday.

Lijnders said: “Big compliment for our structure I think. For our owners, for our team, and then of course a big compliment for Jurgen himself.

“I’m really proud. He is not only the face of the team, of course, he is the face of the club and I think not many foreign managers in a different country made the impact he made at Liverpool.”

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