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Seamus Coleman hails golden generation of Irish keepers ahead of Belgium clash

Séamus Coleman, right, and manager Stephen Kenny arrive for a Republic of Ireland press conference at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Republic manager Stephen Kenny confirmed today Liverpool keeper Caoimhín Kelleher will start the international home friendlies against Belgium and Lithuania.

With Gavin Bazunu and Mark Travers absent through injury and illness, that has allowed Kelleher (23) to come in for a rare start at international level, back-up for these games provided by uncapped pair James Talbot (Bohemians) and Max O'Leary (Bristol City) as Darren Randolph is again excluded.

"Caoimhín will definitely start. That's absolutely right, for sure. He'll most likely play the two matches now, I think it's fair to say, and deservedly so," Kenny said today.

“He's had to be patient because of an unfortunate injury. He missed the last March camp with injury and Gavin Bazunu has come in and been absolutely outstanding. Outstanding.

"We're on a run of four and a half games now consecutively without conceding a goal - and Caoimhín has played his part in that because he played against Qatar. In Caoimhín's two matches to date against Qatar and Hungary, he hasn't conceded a goal, so he deserves his chance because he's been absolutely excellent."

And captain Séamus Coleman believes that the Golden Generation of Irish goalkeepers have the right mentality to make a mark on the game in the long-term.

Coleman says he's pleased not only with the talent but the attitude that the trio of Kelleher, Bazunu and Travers offer.

"Listen, it’s early days, like everything you don’t want to put too much pressure on them at the minute," Coleman said at a pre-match press conference today.

"To be completely honest with you, they are two exceptional goalkeepers. What we see in training on a daily basis from both of them is to a very, very high standard.

"They are both very humble lads, which is important, and both very eager to have a career in the game. It’s early days for them, but if they keep that mentality along with that quality, they can go a long way. We’re very excited by how they train and how they play."

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