McCarthy puts faith in Kelleher ahead of his Anfield run-out
Ireland boss Mick McCarthy has faith in the ability of young 'keeper Caoimhín Kelleher to cope on the big stage with club and country as the Cork native prepares for an Anfield debut tonight.
The 20-year-old was celebrating on the double yesterday as Liverpool confirmed Kelleher would start in tonight's League Cup tie against Arsenal, his second appearance for the first team, but his first at home.
At the same time Reds coach Pepijn Lijnders was telling the media that Kelleher would play against the Gunners this evening, McCarthy named him in a 39-man squad for the November games against New Zealand and Denmark.
McCarthy remains confident that Darren Randolph will recover from the thigh strain which has sidelined him for the last three Middlesbrough games. "I've been speaking to him, messaging him, and he's quite confident, I think, that he's going to be ok," he says.
But McCarthy is keen to keep his back-up options open, with the uncapped Kelleher one of five 'keepers in the senior squad and the manager says an Anfield outing will help Kelleher.
"I think you'll find the last one I picked, Shay (Given) did all right," McCarthy said when asked about selecting young 'keepers.
"If I pick him I have faith in him. I don't question their age, if I do pick them they have to go out and play, and I trust them to play.
"Arsenal is a big game, that's the reason I put him in.
"He played in the last League Cup tie and I was aware that he might play in this one. 'Kells' (coach Alan Kelly) likes him but, equally, he is not playing every week.
"He's playing behind that Liverpool team as well and I'm not sure how much work he'll get. He might get a bit more work playing for us," McCarthy joked.
Liverpool have made it clear that Alisson and Adrian remain the main two goalkeepers at Anfield, but added that Kelleher deserves his chance and Jurgen Klopp’s assistant hinted that he will play for the Reds in the League Cup as long as they remain in the competition.
“It will be special for him playing at Anfield” said Lijnders. “For us, Ali is our No 1 – more than a
No 1 I would say. We have Adrian, who did an unbelievable job and if something happens with Ali, Adrian is our No 2.
“But in this League Cup, it is Caoimhín’s competition. As I said before the MK Dons game, with youth development, with these moments when they are in between the U-23s and the first team, consistency is very important.
“He had a good game and he is preparing for another one.”
McCarthy said he has been impressed by the feedback on Kieran O’Hara, on loan from Manchester United to Burton Albion, and the Irish manager
sent assistant Terry Connor to watch them play Leicester City last night.
But he has also welcomed game-time for Kelleher as a way of increasing competition for places.