Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on young Irish goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher amid talk of a move for Joe Hart.
Klopp confirmed that he has no intention of bringing in the English stopper given the keeper he already has at his disposal. Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet have been used this season with Alex Manninger also on the books at the Merseyside club.
Welsh keeper Danny Ward (currently on loan at Huddersfield) is another player Klopp holds in high regard meaning that Kelleher may have to wait for his chance. Ward, who featured for Wales at Euro 2016, is expected to return to Anfield next season and compete for the number 1 jersey.
However, Klopp’s comments about Cork native Kelleher have further emphasised how highly the former Rigmahon Rangers player is rated. Fellow youth player Kamil Grabara, a Polish underage international, was also namechecked by the German.
‘The young ones have made really big steps, Caiomhin (Kelleher) and Kamil (Grabara), and that is really good.
“The situation with our goalkeepers is really good. I understand the question but I cannot give the answer probably a few people want.”
Kelleher has represented Ireland at under-19 level, a grade which seems to be producing an abundance of talent. Another member of that under-19 side is highly-rated centre-half Conor Masterson, whom Klopp also tipped to be a future academy graduate and was brought along with the first team on a mid-season training camp in La Manga.
Both players featured for the Irish under-19s in their impressive Elite qualifying games where they secured wins against Italy and Belgium. Unfortunately, Ireland lost out on qualification to Sweden but Kelleher and Masterson, in particular, demonstrated the hype that their club manager has spoken of.
Corey Whelan and Glen McAuley are two other Irish players on the youth ranks at Anfield with Whelan a current Ireland under-21 international. Given Klopp’s tenancy to promote youth, it may not be long before of the Reds’ Irish contingency tastes some first team football.
Nick Menezes, Pundit Arena
On this week’s edition of the Mixer Irish football podcast, Neal Horgan joins us to discuss Colin Healy’s retirement and we catch up on the all the latest League of Ireland news.