Republic of Ireland boss Stephen Kenny has admitted goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher needs to leave Liverpool this summer if he is to fulfil his potential.
The 24-year-old will meet up with his international colleagues ahead of the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Greece and Gibraltar later this month and resume his battle with Gavin Bazunu for the role of Ireland’s number one.
However, the man who played in the Reds’ 2022 Carabao Cup final victory over Chelsea is still firmly in the shadow of Brazilian star Alisson Becker at Anfield and made just four club appearances for his club last season, and Kenny expects him to seek pastures new before the new campaign gets under way.
He said: “I would fully expect that. It’s not right normally to speak about a player moving, but he’s at the stage where he’s behind probably one of the best goalkeepers in the world and it’s not going to get any easier.
“He can’t afford not playing. He knows that and he’s known that for a while. It’s not easy. There’s a process you go through with a club like that and I think and it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to move in the summer, and he knows that.
“I think he’s ready to go and play regularly because he needs to. It’s hard to leave Liverpool, it’s such an iconic club, but he’s not so young now. He’s 24 and he needs to play and he knows that.”
Kenny faces something of a conundrum with his keepers, with Kelleher, Bazunu and Mark Travers all at Premier League clubs, but struggling for regular football.
Bazunu, 21, lost his place at Southampton as they fought, ultimately unsuccessfully, to stave off relegation, although his international manager is optimistic his confidence will not be affected by that experience.
Kenny said: “He’s done remarkable, really, in a short career, Gavin as well. For one so young, he’s done remarkably well. He’s always looked very confident playing for us.”
Full-back Matt Doherty is another man who has been starved of football this season having made just two brief appearances as a substitute for Atletico Madrid since joining them from Tottenham in January.
Kenny said: “I’m sure when he took that move, he knew he would find it hard for games, but he thought he would play an amount of games, for sure. He couldn’t have envisaged that he wouldn’t play at all. That was frustrating for him and tough mentally to deal with.”
𝗠𝗡𝗧 𝗦𝗤𝗨𝗔𝗗 𝗔𝗡𝗡𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗖𝗘𝗗 🇮🇪
Kenny names 25-man squad for @EURO2024 qualifiers as Lenihan, Taylor & Scales included but Ogbene ruled out
Ferguson & Obafemi part of exciting attacking options for June double header 🙌
16/06 | 🇬🇷🆚🇮🇪
19/06 | 🇮🇪🆚🇬🇮 pic.twitter.com/C45eB401mB
— Ireland Football ⚽️🇮🇪 (@IrelandFootball) June 1, 2023
Kenny has been forced to omit Rotherham striker Chiedozie Ogbene from his 25-man squad for the games against Greece in Athens on June 16 and Gibraltar in Dublin three days later after he failed to recover from a hamstring injury.
However, 18-year-old Brighton counterpart Evan Ferguson will report for a nine-day training camp in Antalya full of confidence at the end of his breakthrough season.
Kenny said: “He’s taken everything in his stride, he’s a single-minded individual and nothing has fazed him. He seems to be able to adapt to whatever the occasion demands.”
Written By Damian Spellman, PA
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