Liverpool’s Caoimhín Kelleher prepared to play the waiting game as he gets the nod to face Qatar

Republic of Ireland Press Conference, FAI National Training Centre, Dublin 11/10/2021
Goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

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Caoimhín Kelleher says he has no regrets about not going on loan from Liverpool despite falling behind in the battle for Ireland's number one jersey.

Having come off the bench for his Ireland debut in the summer Kelleher, 22, is excited at the prospect of his first senior international start in tomorrow night's friendly with Qatar at the Aviva Stadium.

“Yeah, I think hopefully I’ll get the opportunity tomorrow, it would be nice to get a first start for Ireland," he said.

“I’ve a good few family coming up to watch the game. In front of the home fans to make my first start would be a special and proud moment for me."

The Corkman has lost out in the international pecking order to fellow young gun Gavin Bazunu, who has started all of the World Cup qualifying games since the opening defeat to Serbia, his claim strengthened because he was playing regularly on loan to Portsmouth from Manchester City.

However Stephen Kenny has indicated that Kelleher will start for Ireland tomorrow.

The netminder, who has become Allison's number two at Anfield, said: "I'm focused on myself and what I do.

"I am quite happy at the minute, if the time does come that I feel I need to look at that (going on loan) I will have a look but I am comfortable where I am.

"I don't regret anything, it's different for everyone – different individuals, it's different journeys, the way my career is going is completely different.

"So I don't have any regrets, I am happy to do what I do and how it has turned out.

"I obviously back myself to do well whenever I play but I don’t think of what ifs or if I was fit or whatever, it doesn’t matter to me.

"I don’t spend time thinking about that. If I get capped, I know what I’m capable of.

“I think it’s a different situation for me anyway. Liverpool want me to stay, I’m number two this season and it’s a good position to be in, I think.

Caoimhin Kelleher
(Image: Getty Images)

"Hopefully it’s a chance to play some games and the opportunity to play at a high level.

"I need to play well. If I need to have a conversation about playing more games, I’ll have it. I’m in a good position where I am."

Bazunu has really impressed since coming into the Ireland line-up and Kelleher acknowledges that the 19-year-old will be hard to dislodge.

“Of course it’s going to be difficult," he said. "I think the first team, it’s always going to be difficult.

"Three good goalkeepers, myself, Mark (Travers) and Gavin all competing for one spot is healthy competition.

"We all get on with each other. It’s only healthy for us and good for us. I like it. I like competition, it makes you better.

“I’ll just try and play my own game and if that helps the team, great."

Kelleher could be looking at Premier League action for Liverpool next weekend, given the possibility of Brazil's Allison missing out due to quarantine demands.

He says that's not his focus for the time being.

“I think no, just at the minute it’s just the game against Qatar is the main focus," Kelleher. "If I do play at the weekend, it would be good to get a game in before that as well. But the main focus is Qatar tomorrow."

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