Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has confirmed that Caoimhin Kelleher will start ahead of Alisson in the Carabao Cup final against Chelsea next month.
The Reds secured their place at Wembley after a 3-2 aggregate win over Fulham.
Having won the semi-final first leg 2-1, Liverpool earned a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage on Wednesday to book their spot against Chelsea on February 25 – a repeat of the 2022 final which Klopp’s men won on penalties.
However, focus has already turned to next month’s final with fans questioning whether Klopp will start either Kelleher or Alisson against Chelsea.
Kelleher has started each of Liverpool’s five Carabao Cup matches this season and will get the nod at Wembley, despite Alisson being Klopp’s first-choice goalkeeper.
When asked about the prospect of not picking Kelleher for the final, Klopp replied:
“Imagine that. Oh, that’s a different situation, a little bit between Caoimhin and Jarell (Quansah) for example. So Jarell is part of, if you want, the rotation crew, easy as that. And that’s how it is, we have to.
“Imagine we now play two all the time, we don’t want to do it and we will not, as long as we can make these decisions we will.
“Caoimhin is a top, top, top, top goalie, and when Ali is fit he doesn’t have a lot of games so I want to give him, desperately, the opportunity to play because it’s important for development and he deserves it on top of that because he’s always there, he gives his absolute everything, like Adrian by the way it’s the same.
“I don’t know exactly how many games he played now already but with the Europa League it’s a few. That’s how it works. He was really happy after the game today.
“He’s not smiling a lot, at least when I’m around, but after the game I could see he was really happy about qualifying again and having the chance again to win another trophy in his career.
“It would be a big one. But we all know it’s Chelsea and they probably want to put history right after playing us twice two years ago. It’s just great.”
The Republic of Ireland international, who joined Liverpool in 2015, made his first-team debut during a League Cup tie against MK Dons in September 2019.
He had to wait over a year for his first Premier League appearance, meanwhile, which came in a 4-0 win over Wolves in December 2020.
As a reward for his development, Kelleher signed a new five-year contract in June 2021. He went on to play an influential role in Liverpool reaching the 2022 Carabao Cup final, as Kelleher kept a clean sheet and scored the decisive penalty in a 11-10 victory over Chelsea.
Kelleher had been linked with a move to Brentford in the summer, but the goalkeeper stayed at Liverpool and has made 12 appearances in all competitions so far this season. He featured in five of the Reds’ six Europa League group matches, plus filling in twice in the Premier League.
Liverpool have beaten Leicester, Bournemouth, West Ham and now Fulham en route to the final at Wembley.
As for Chelsea, they earned a 6-2 aggregate win over Middlesbrough to reach the final, having also earned victories over Wimbledon, Brighton, Blackburn and Newcastle in the competition.