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Alisson injury scuppered Kelleher's loan move from Liverpool to Dutch Eredivisie

‘”We really need him to get matches under his belt as we feel he is ready to play for us’, said Stephen Kenny.

Kelleher in action for Liverpool in 2019.
Kelleher in action for Liverpool in 2019.
Image: EMPICS Sport

CAOIMHIN KELLEHER SAW a loan move from Liverpool scuppered by injury to first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker, Irish boss Stephen Kenny has revealed. 

Speaking ahead of Thursday’s friendly with England at Wembley, Kenny revealed Kelleher was set for a stint in the Dutch top flight at the end of this season’s transfer window, but the move was pulled when Alisson suffered a shoulder injury at the start of October. 

The Brazilian goalkeeper was expected to miss around six weeks of action, but ultimately missed just under a month of action; a speedy recovery he attributed to intense rehabilitation and prayer. 

Kelleher is third-choice at Liverpool behind Alisson and Adrian, but while he was promoted to the bench during the Brazilian’s absence, he did not play a first-team game. He has made just one first-team appearance for Liverpool in 2020, a February FA Cup tie with Shrewsbury. 

“Caoimhin Kelleher was exceptional for the U21s and in training Alan Kelly, our goalkeeper coach, can’t believe how good Caoimhin Kelleher is”, said Kenny.

“We really need Caoimhin Kelleher to get matches under his belt as we feel he is ready to play for us. He is good enough to play for Ireland, but he’s not playing matches so it’s an issue.

“He would have benefitted from that [move] we feel, but it’s not easy to play at Liverpool. They are the best club team in the world, they are world champions.” 

Kelleher is part of the Irish senior squad for next week’s games with England, Wales and Bulgaria, one of three goalkeepers along with Darren Randolph and Mark Travers.

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The three ‘keepers in the Irish squad have just a single league appearance this season between them, and although Darren Randolph is not first choice at West Ham, Kenny says he retains that status with Ireland.

“It’s not ideal”, said Kenny of Randolph’s place in West Ham’s pecking order.

“He went to West Ham to compete to be number one and he’s been very consistent with Ireland. Fabianski has the jersey at the moment so it’s not easy for Darren. He did play three Carabao Cup matches which kept him sharp, but they are out of that competition now. It is an issue, but Darren is our number one and that’s not changing, but ideally going forward, playing matches would be preferable for him.”

Kenny also revealed that 18-year-old Gavin Bazunu, currently on loan at Rochdale from Manchester City, came close to earning a senior call-up in this window but he was ultimately selected in Jim Crawford’s U21 squad.

“Gavin is an 18-year-old with leadership qualities. We have good goalkeepers, but they just need to get opportunities. Gavin has gone to League One and reports have been good. I’ve seen him play for Rochdale, Alan Kelly has watched all 11 of his games and has been very impressed with him.” 

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