Caoimhín Kelleher set to start for Liverpool against Watford

Absence of Alisson due to quarantine requirements opens the door for Corkman

Caoimhín Kelleher during Liverpool training. Photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Caoimhín Kelleher is set to follow his clean sheet for Ireland on Tuesday with a first Liverpool Premier League appearance of the season on Saturday.

The club are sending Alisson Becker and Fabinho straight to Spain from international duty with Brazil to complete their Covid quarantine.

Alisson’s absence opens the door for Kelleher who also made Premier League appearances in the Brazilian’s absence last year and looked comfortable in Ireland’s 4-0 win over Qatar. The Corkman’s last match for Liverpool was the Carabao Cup win away to Norwich last month.

Alisson and Fabinho were already unlikely to feature against Watford in the Saturday lunchtime kick-off as their country’s World Cup qualifier against Uruguay did not finish until the early hours of Friday.

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However, rather than bring the players home, Liverpool have opted to send them straight to Madrid — where they face Atlético on Tuesday — in order for them to complete their necessary 10 days’ quarantine so a return to England later next week will leave them free of any restrictions.

“We had to sort quarantine issues and the decision we made is the boys will not be here, they will go directly to Madrid, wait there for us, hopefully be able to play against Atletico, then will come back slightly later than us, so then they can come back in our normal procedure again,” said manager Jürgen Klopp.

“Obviously they could have flown into England but with all the quarantine stuff that would have meant they would have to isolate from their families and Ali has three kids and being away with the national teams and then 10 days in isolation with the same rubbish again... we need solutions for that and they are still not there.

“They have played in Brazil so they already had four days there not in a red-list country and that’s what counts.

“Then another six days not in a red-list country then they can come back and start immediately so even when they go from bubble to bubble to bubble it is still 10 days and for us that is the solution.”

Klopp is also deeply unhappy with England Under-21s’ handling of Curtis Jones, who has returned from international duty injured and will also miss the trip to Vicarage Road.

“Curtis Jones came back injured. Great. That’s not okay as well but it is really difficult to get in proper contact even with the English federation because they do what they want,” he said.

“He didn’t train, wasn’t involved in the first game and then he played a few minutes in the second game against Andorra — great.”

Klopp added sarcastically: “Very important he played there. Came back with a slight injury and not available tomorrow. These are the situations we have to deal with and this is why we have these massive squads where we use players like machines.

“When the federations don’t start helping us — and I mean all of them, whoever it is, the Premier League, the FA — they have to think about the game and not their own interests but that is how it is in the moment. I’ve talked about it for six or seven years but no-one is listening.”