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Ireland wait on Liverpool starlet ahead of potential Champions League final involvement

Caoimhin Kelleher may be in the Reds’ squad for their clash with Spurs.

Liverpool's Caoimhin Kelleher (file pic).
Liverpool's Caoimhin Kelleher (file pic).
Image: Adam Davy

STEPHEN KENNY SAYS his side “still have to sort out” an arrangement with Liverpool, after Caoimhin Kelleher was named in the Ireland U21 squad on Tuesday.

Kelleher is currently the Reds’ third-choice goalkeeper and has featured regularly in their Champions League squads this season.

The 20-year-old Cork native consequently could make their Champions League squad for the final with Tottenham on 1 June.

Kelleher is also one of two goalkeepers, along with UCD’s Conor Kearns, selected in the Ireland U21 squad for the upcoming Toulon Tournament in France.

Ireland’s opening group game against China takes place on 3 June — just two days after Liverpool meet Spurs in Madrid — with the details regarding Kelleher’s availability yet to be finalised.

“We still have to sort out that, but I’m sure that he won’t be playing in the Champions league final,” Kenny said. “But I think it’s a great thing for an Irish player to be involved at any level in the Champions League final. But certainly, I’m sure he won’t be playing in that… There are a couple of goalkeepers ahead of him at the club, but we still have to sort out the arrangements in relation to that.”

With seven League of Ireland players included in the squad, it is also expected that the domestic schedule will be disrupted owing to postponements. UCD alone have three players included in the squad, with Kearns, Neil Farrugia and Liam Scales making the cut.

“Well we’ve been in full contact with the clubs, we’ve spoken to the managers and let them know our plans over the last couple of weeks and I think we’ve been fully upfront about everything,” Kenny added.


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Mexico, Bahrain and China are in Ireland’s group, with the winners advancing to the semi-finals of the competition, while an array of traditionally strong international sides, including England, France, Brazil and Portugal, are among those set to compete.

The tournament will also serve as vital preparation for Ireland’s upcoming European Championship qualifiers in September.

There’s been a lot of talk about the lack of talent and the lack of ability, but we see no shortage of quality coming through at the moment and it’s a chance to really test that against really good, top Olympic teams, playing at that level, and that can give us an indication of where some of the players are.

“It’s a great tournament to play in, in that regard. I think the quality of the teams is a big step up from, say, the U19s, and so it’s something that the players can look forward to, I feel, the two weeks — the few days before that — the subsequent two weeks training and playing in four games and seeing where that takes us.”

Kenny also paid tribute to youngsters Mark Travers and Luca Connell, after the pair were included in Mick McCarthy’s senior squad ahead of next month’s Euro 2020 qualifiers, having come through the Irish underage set-up.

“There’s communication and it’s great for all the international managers as well to see Mark Travers and Luca Connell stepping up into the senior squad. They’ve all been in various squads with the different managers and it’s great for them to witness that.

“Luca has been involved, certainly with Colin [O'Brien] and Jim Crawford, in the tournament with the U18s and this year with Tom in the U19 qualifiers. And Mark as well, and in all the age groups going back to U15 and U16 with Jason [Donohue] and Paul [Osam] and all of that. So it’s been great to see them coming through.”

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Paul Fennessy

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