‘No doubt’ that ‘exceptional’ Kelleher is ready, says Jürgen Klopp ahead of Fulham tie

Jürgen Klopp addressed the media at Liverpool’s AXA Training Facility on Friday, with his side ramping up preparations as they look to welcome Fulham to Anfield on Sunday.

The manager offered his thoughts on the difficulties of squad selection, Caoimhin Kelleher’s suitability to be a first team goalkeeper, Liverpool’s fine form at Anfield and what fans can expect to see from Fulham.

‘This is the most intense period in world football’

When quizzed as to whether he has a squad selection issue to face when choosing between Darwín Núñez and Cody Gakpo for the upcoming match against Fulham, Klopp explained to reporters that ‘it is not about that. The boys don’t have to convince me in the games. We don’t rotate.’

‘This is my squad, this is my team and they play. If somebody is not extremely awful in shape and you think, ‘My god, what is going on with him?!’ – and that didn’t happen for a long, long time – then we just decide for the game and these kind of things.’

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‘This is the most intense period in world football coming up now, that’s how it is, for all the teams by the way. So, they all will play,’ he insisted.

‘We already have Diogo [Jota] not in and that’s not helpful, so yes, we have to share these kind of minutes with different players and they have to perform, not always 90, sometimes less, but 60 or 70 and then full throttle. That’s how it is.’

‘Darwin is in a top moment and that didn’t change, super-important for us. That he didn’t start [on Thursday] has nothing to do with anything else. Now Cody scored twice, fantastic. Does that mean he has to play the next five games in a row? Other players score as well.’

‘It is not about that and Cody doesn’t expect [that] now because of that. They have to score, that’s the job, that’s what they want, but it is not that I have sleepless nights now and don’t know who to start. It’s not that much a choice, to be honest.’

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With Klopp’s thoughts on rotation already having been made clear, he then went on to clarify further – adding that ‘I am not sure we can rotate all the time. I don’t know, we will see that – it depends who is available. [On Thursday] we could do it and that’s why we did it. When you lose in Toulouse, for example, and then people tell you, ‘Too many changes’, these kind of things, ‘No rhythm’, I think it myself.’

‘When I saw the game I thought, ‘Was that the right decision?’ Just the problem is it is already done. But we have to do it as long as we can. But I don’t know if we can do it. You saw Newcastle playing in the Champions League, two goalies and three kids on the bench I think and a centre-half, [Paul] Dummett. That’s really tough.’

‘You have to make sure you have as many available, as much as you can have influence on, which we don’t have really. We watch it, take what we get and go from there. How I said, the toughest period in world football is coming up. It’s a good start [against LASK] and now let’s keep going,’ he concluded.

Caoimhin Kelleher is ‘an exceptional talent’

Jürgen Klopp has ‘no doubt’ in his mind that Caoimhin Kelleher is ready to fill in for Alisson between the sticks, with the Brazilian shotstopper ruled out for a number of weeks after sustaining an injury against Manchester City.

‘We see him every day in training. He is an exceptional, exceptional talent. Maybe we don’t mention his name often enough, but it is a John Achterberg thing. From day one when I came in, he told me this will be our homegrown boy who will make it. Since then, we see every step. He was a boy and now he’s a man. And yeah, top goalie, no doubt.’

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‘He is in general a focused person. You will not see him in a bar celebrating the clean sheet [against LASK]! That is not a problem. Caoimhin is prepared for that, he wants that now. We had discussions in the summer about it, obviously, but as long as we don’t have a solution we cannot loan players.’

‘He is homegrown and all these kind of things, so we have to make sure first and foremost, the first responsibility is we do the best for Liverpool and then we have to see how we can sort it. Now, obviously, for him it is the situation he didn’t want to have [Alisson Becker being injured] but obviously somehow, yes, because he wants opportunities, he wants to play and now he will get a few games, definitely. And I trust him.’

Anfield ‘must be a difficult place to come’

Liverpool’s home form in the Premier League this season makes for remarkable reading. Having played six matches at Anfield thus far, Klopp’s side have won each and every one of them – conceding just twice!

The German insists that his players have ‘always enjoyed [playing at Anfield], in our bad spells as well! It’s our home and must be – must, must, must be – a difficult place to come.’

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‘I said to the boys yesterday, I think every player if you are not playing at Liverpool and you play in a different country, then you see the [UCL] group and you get the draw and stuff like this, playing at Anfield is a dream. But actually it must be a nightmare. That’s what we tried to do. It didn’t work out all the time, but when our people are at it, it makes a massive difference. That’s how it is.’

‘We have to make sure it will be extremely difficult’ for Fulham

With the Fulham match just days away, Jürgen Klopp was asked for his assessment of how the London-based side have performed this season after registering a top-half finish last term.

‘We didn’t do the analysis yet,’ admitted Klopp, ‘but I saw the last game and what I saw was very creative set-pieces, like really creative. A lot of short ones. And we have to make sure we use the few moments we have to prepare that properly.’

‘Besides that, I just think that Marco [Silva] is a top manager, he is doing a brilliant job, and yes it is in a strong, strong league. I would not say last year they were overachieving, they just did particularly well. Now it is still like that.’

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‘It is a really good football team, a really good football team. How they set it up with, I don’t know, [Raul] Jimenez now up front or whoever will play, or [Carlos] Vinicius and then you have one of the greatest players the Premier League ever saw still going and going and going [Willian]. Then you have [Andreas] Pereira.’

‘It is just a good football team, well set up and that makes it special. In this little stadium there, they can create a proper atmosphere as well. We had our struggles there, but here, again, it is at home and we have to make sure it will be extremely difficult for them, first and foremost.’