Liverpool are making efforts to secure Caoimhín Kelleher’s long-term future by opening talks on a contract extension.
The Cork native has 17 months remaining on the deal he signed in 2018 but the strides made by the goalkeeper this season in which he’s started five games have made his situation a priority for Anfield chiefs.
Technically, Kelleher would be able to negotiate with suitors from January about moving on a free if the Reds don’t secure his commitment. Fellow Leesider and ex-Premier League goalkeeper Colin Doyle believes Kelleher’s value has already soared to around €5m.
The 22-year-old earlier this season overtook the experienced Adrian to become Jurgen Klopp’s second-choice stopper.
Kelleher was called upon for two Champions League fixtures, two Premier League games and the FA Cup defeat of Aston Villa between December and February.
Currently sidelined with a knock, Kelleher is considered central to Klopp’s long-term plans.
Adrian is not expected to be retained by the Premier League champions when his contract expires in May and Klopp has so far resisted shelling out for an alternative back-up to Alisson.
“Caoimhín is a sensationally talented goalie,” said the German in December. “That is really difficult because goalies can be exceptional but still have to wait for their chance.
“Now Caoimhín got the chance and I think he convinced everybody.
“He didn’t have to convince us, obviously — we thought it would be like this. But he convinced everybody and that’s good.”
The Ringmahon Rangers product is represented by Stellar, the agency powerhouse who act for Gareth Bale and the majority of the England squad, including Jack Grealish. The company was acquired by American global entertainment conglomerate ICM in October.
Kelleher has yet to win a senior Ireland cap but could be thrown in for his debut in next month’s World Cup qualification opener against Serbia in place of Darren Randolph. Stephen Kenny’s goalkeeping mainstay is struggling with injury and hasn’t appeared on the West Ham United bench recently.
One player almost certainly out of that campaign opener in Belgrade on March 24 is John Egan.
The defender’s leg was protected with a brace when he was taken off the pitch on a stretcher during the latter stages of Sheffield United’s defeat to West Ham United last night.
Among the frontrunners to replace the centre-back in the Ireland team is Ciaran Clark. He has reclaimed his place in the Newcastle United team, giving him an advantage over rivals Dara O’Shea and Kevin Long who are in and out at West Bromwich Albion and Burnley respectively. Richard Keogh, back in the Championship with Huddersfield Town, may push for a first call-up under Stephen Kenny.
Burnley target Nathan Collins would ordinarily be in contention for promotion but he sustained a metatarsal injury for Stoke City on Saturday and is serving a two-match ban from his sending off for Ireland’s U21s against Iceland in November.
Meanwhile, the FAI have offered Ireland international James McClean its support over the sustained social media abuse he’s endured.
The Stoke player and his wife outlined in recent days the degree of venom he’s had to sustain online. One message read: “Don’t make me set your house on fire and burn everyone inside it”, the fourth in a litany of messages from one account.
“To abuse or threaten James or any player because of his nationality should not be tolerated by society,” said FAI chief executive Jonathan Hill. “Unfortunately, such behaviour is all too common now on social media.
“Only last week we commended the stance taken by English football against the abuse of footballers across all social media channels and we are examining how best we can take a similar stance.”