Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders said today Caoimhin Kelleher had “earned the right to play” in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea.

The young Irish goalkeeper has started three of Liverpool’s five Carabao Cup games so far this season.

And the back-up keeper has been hugely influential in helping his side reach Sunday’s final at Wembley.

The Reds will go head-to-head with Chelsea a decade after the club’s most recent triumph in the competition.

“I was the coach of the under 16s when we signed Caoimhin and he showed all of the things he does now back then,” said Lijnders.

“Our young talents don’t let us down and never did,” added the Dutchman.

Kelleher’s best performance in the competition came in the quarter-finals against Leicester.

He saved two penalties in the shootout, allowing Klopp’s men to reach the semi finals after a thrilling performance.

Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson said he had full confidence in the 23-year-old saying, “he’s been outstanding in everything that he’s done”.

Henderson added: “He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing because he has been fantastic.”

Jota and Firmino injury woes

Following injuries in Liverpool’s Champions League Round of 16 game against Inter Milan last week, both Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino look likely to miss out on the final.

Lijnders and Henderson seemed to be on the same page with Firmino’s fitness worries heading into Sunday.

“Bobby we will have to see in the next few days,” said Lijnders.

Henderson agreed: “It looks like Bobby is struggling, which is a blow.”

But the captain seemed more optimistic at the possibility of Jota featuring.

“He still might have a chance so that would be massive for all the lads considering his form this season.” 

Platform for the rest of the season

After winning their game in hand against Leeds on Wednesday, The Reds have closed the gap to three points at the top of the Premier League.

And they are also looking strong in Europe, heading into their Round of 16 second leg date at Anfield with a two-goal advantage.

Henderson believes a win on Sunday could help encourage a strong end to the season and possibly more trophies.

“It’s a big moment in the season and to get a trophy so early on can give the team a big boos,” he added.

“If we win we can use it as a platform for the rest of the games in the season, hopefully we are able to continue this form and winning on Sunday will be massive for our confidence going into the remaining games.”

(Pepijn Lijnders – Liverpool assistant manager – by RN7 under creative commons licence