Safe Hands Exclusive - Caoimhin Kelleher 'ready to step in for Liverpool now' says Reds' goalkeeping coach
Liverpool goalkeeping coach John Achterberg believes Ireland starlet Caoimhin Kelleher would benefit from a loan move away from the club, but he insists he is ready to play for the reigning Premier League champions if called upon.
With first-choice keeper Alisson Becker out with a shoulder problem that will keep him on the sidelines for the next month, Adrian stepped in for Liverpool and was left shell-shocked as his early mistake sparked an extraordinary collapse that saw Jurgen Klopp's champions hammered 7-2 by Aston Villa last weekend.
Adrian looks certain to retain his place in the Liverpool goal for next weekend's derby showdown against league leaders Everton, with 21-year-old Kelleher set to be back-up choice if called upon over the next few weeks.
Now Achterberg has suggested Kelleher would benefit from a temporary move away from Anfield that could guarantee some first-team exposure, but the club will not sanction a move for their third-choice stopper.
"He would like to play games and obviously that would be easier if he went out on loan, but the problem for us is we need three good goalies and he is one of our three," begins former Tranmere keeper Achterberg.Solution
"For his development, a loan move would be his next step, but the club have to make sure they have everything covered in case we have a problem with our keepers and we know it would be hard to find a keeper as good as him if we let him go out on loan.
"It's not the ideal solution for him and maybe playing matches would be what he needs now, but he is training with top players every day at Liverpool, playing in our under-23 games and that will allow him to continue to progress.
"Working with someone as good as Alison every day for the last couple of years can only help him. He sets such high standards in everything he does and you can only learn from working with someone like that.
"The higher level you train at every day allows you to take your career up to the next level, but it would be the best solution for him to have a spell on loan at some point.
"What I would say is we would have no issue putting him into a game and I know the manager has faith in him as well.
"This manager shows great interest in everyone in his squad. He appreciates that you need a big squad to win anything and it might be that we need to play our third-choice keeper in a big game at some point."
Kelleher joined the exclusive ranks of Irish players to collect a winners' medal in the Champions League when he was part of Liverpool's squad that beat Tottenham in the 2019 final, with Achterberg giving us an insight into the personality of a young man who is living the dream with the most successful club in Europe over the last year.
"He is a very quiet guy, a calm guy and very down to earth," he continues.
"He is really not a big talker, but he has improved a lot in that area on the field in the last couple of years.
"There can never be enough talking on the pitch, in my opinion, so that is an area he can work on, but I see big improvements in all parts of his game. He has become more like a man now and we have high hopes for him.
"Caoimhin has all the attributes to be a top keeper and maybe he will get his chance to play in the first team at Liverpool sooner than we expect."
While Liverpool's aura was shaken by the manner of their hammering at Villa Park a week ago, Achterberg admits the positive vibes around the club have been crucial to their success and he puts that down to one man.
"The manager makes all the spirit in the club and makes sure we are a team on and off the pitch," he says of Klopp.
"You see him working and the way he has everyone feeling positive and happy and that is a great part of why he is a great manager.
"Yes, he gets the best out of players with tactical plans, but you see the spirit around the club and the atmosphere we have in the dressing room and this is all down to the man who makes that happen."Solution
Former goalkeeper Achterberg has found a second home at Liverpool after John Aldridge signed the Dutchman during his time as Tranmere manager in 1998.
He went on to play over 350 games for the third biggest team on Merseyside before securing a dream move to work on the Liverpool coaching staff in 2011 and he admits he is grateful to our Sunday World columnist for giving him a career break.
"Aldo brought me to Tranmere all those years ago and Liverpool has been my home ever since," added Achterberg.
"We had some great times with Aldo as our manager at Tranmere as we reached a League Cup final and caused a lot of cup upsets.
"In the end, he decided he didn't want to be a manager any more as the stress was too much for him, but I will always be grateful to him for bringing me to this great city and it has felt like home for a long time now."