Wednesday night sees Liverpool take on Arsenal in the League Cup fourth round. Both sides are expected to name youthful lineups for the fixture with the tournament a longstanding proving ground for young players. Speaking ahead of the game Pep Lijnders confirmed that Caoimhin Kelleher will start in goal for Liverpool.
The Reds Irish keeper is just 20 years old, an infant in goalkeeping years. The reserve team shot stopper is currently first choice for the Republic of Ireland U21s side and was recently named in Mick McCarthy’s extended 39 man squad for games against New Zealand and Denmark.
Liverpool beat MK Dons 2-0 to reach the fourth round of the cup, Kelleher started in goal against the Dons and put in a strong performance, pulling off some smart saves. With Adrian having performed fantastically throughout his time in the first team when Alisson Becker was sidelined, there was a feeling the Spaniard may have been rewarded with time in cup games.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, broadcast on the club’s official site, Pep Lijnders quashed these theories saying “Caoimhin started this competition and he’s the one who starts tomorrow,” the Reds assistant manager supported the decision by emphasising the importance of giving regular chances to young players, saying: “consistency is the most important thing if you want to give players opportunity and a pathway to develop.”
This is an encouraging and brave decision by the Reds management. One downside to Liverpool’s success of late is that it has left little room for youngsters to establish themselves. To stick with his prodigy shot stopper is a great show of confidence, Lijnders gave the Irishman a glowing endorsement saying, “We see a good future for him and want to give him his opportunity”. Fingers crossed Caoimhin Kelleher will take the start against Arsenal in his stride and repay the faith his manager has show in him.