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Kell' of a keeper It's great to see Klopp sticking with cracking young talent like Caoimhín Kelleher for Cup Final


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Caoimhin Kelleher and coach John Achterberg

Caoimhin Kelleher and coach John Achterberg

N'Golo Kante of Chelsea in action with James Milner of Liverpool

N'Golo Kante of Chelsea in action with James Milner of Liverpool

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Caoimhin Kelleher and coach John Achterberg

JURGEN Klopp made it clear long ago that Caoimhín Kelleher will start today's EFL Cup final against Chelsea - and the young Ireland goalkeeper deserves this moment.

Klopp has not always trained his focus on domestic cup competitions during his reign as Liverpool manager, and his team selections have confirmed as much down the years.

He has often thrown kids into matches as he has prioritised the Premier League and Champions League, but that mindset has shifted a little this season.

So I would expect him to play as close to a full-strength team as possible against Chelsea at Wembley this afternoon, with Kelleher the one exception to that rule.

It's hard not to be impressed with this lad from Cork - and speaking to people working with Caoimhín every day at Anfield, they believe he is destined to go right to the top.

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Klopp is a big fan of goalkeeper Kelleher

Klopp is a big fan of goalkeeper Kelleher

Klopp is a big fan of goalkeeper Kelleher

I signed John Achterberg during my time as Tranmere manager and he must be a man with good judgement as he has never left Merseyside since!

John is now Liverpool goalkeeping coach and whenever I speak to John about Kelleher, he has nothing but praise for the lad.

Kelleher is good with his feet, a great shot-stopper and seems to have a fantastic temperament as well.

Significantly, he has never let Liverpool down when he has stepped in for Alisson Becker - and now he is getting the ultimate reward for his patience in waiting for a chance by starting a major Cup final.

It could be seen as a gamble by Klopp as Alisson is the best keeper in world football, and should start every game he is available to play in.

Yet Klopp has told Kelleher that he will be playing the EFL Cup games and he is sticking by that decision, even in the final against a dangerous Chelsea team.

If Liverpool were playing one of the weaker Premier League teams like Spurs, Arsenal or Manchester United (I have a smile on my face writing that!) at Wembley today, he might consider playing a few more of the players who helped to get Liverpool to this final.

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Yet Chelsea are not a side you can mess around with, as they have players who have won big trophies in recent years, and will fancy their chances on the big stage.

So while striker Takumi Minamino has also played a big role in getting Liverpool into this final, I suspect Klopp will go with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota up front, assuming the latter of those three is fit.

Jordan Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara are a three-man midfield ready to take on any side in world football - and this is an area of the field where this game could be decided.

N'Golo Kante is a wonderful little player for Chelsea and he makes them tick, so Liverpool need to get the better of him today - and the trio of Henderson, Fabinho and Thiago can do that.

Then you look at the attacking options for both teams and I'd expect Romelu Lukaku to return for Chelsea after he was dropped from their Champions League game against Lille on Tuesday night.

If Lukaku starts today, he will be a threat with his power and presence leading the line, but the question marks that have always hung over him have been highlighted again in recent weeks.

There was a perception he had a bad attitude at Manchester United, and they were delighted to get rid of him to Inter Milan.

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N'Golo Kante of Chelsea in action with James Milner of Liverpool

N'Golo Kante of Chelsea in action with James Milner of Liverpool

N'Golo Kante of Chelsea in action with James Milner of Liverpool

Now he is back in England and the same issues are cropping up again, with Lukaku giving interviews saying he is not happy at Chelsea, and then turning in a bizarre display at Crystal Palace last weekend.

He had just seven touches of the ball at Selhurst Park and looked like he would rather be anywhere else than on the football pitch, and maybe this is an example of a leopard being unable to change his spots.

Once a problem, always a problem? It is a tag attached to players with bad attitudes and Lukaku is not doing much to dispel the theory that he is not a good man to have in a club.

Of course, he could turn it all around if he scores the winner for Chelsea today, because he is a handful for any defender, even if Virgil van Dijk might be his worst nightmare today.

Amid all these talking points, I'm certain this game will not be won comfortably by either side.

Cup Finals are rarely decided by wide margins and I'd expect it to be tight at Wembley, as Liverpool aim to win their first domestic cup since 2012.

In my early days following Liverpool, we used to call Wembley 'Anfield South' as we were there at least once a year.

We were spoilt by regular trips to the League Cup final and what was then the Charity Shield - and it's great to see the excitement among a new generation of fans ahead of this evening's game.

My grandkids are excited to see Liverpool at Wembley, and I'm sure Klopp and his players will enjoy the prospect of getting their hands on some silverware.

The League Cup may only be the fourth priority when the season gets underway, but great teams need a collection of trophies on their record to confirm their status.

This Liverpool team need to start adding more medals to their collection and with all the momentum in their favour right now, they have a real chance to get their hands on a few trophies in the next few months.

Chelsea v Liverpool

EFL Cup Final, today, 4.30pm Live on SKY Sport M Event

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