LIVERPOOL BOSS Jurgen Klopp has admitted that his side would be in far worse shape had it not been for a number of academy prospects stepping up and performing - including Irish youngster Caoimhin Kelleher.
The 22-year-old goalkeeper made both his Champions League and Premier League debuts for the Reds in the last seven days, keeping two clean sheets in the process.
Cork-born Kelleher impressed in both fixtures with a number of acrobatic saves, with pundits suggesting that he could be Ireland's best young talent since the emergence of fellow Cork-native Roy Keane.
Liverpool have been hit by an injury crisis this season, with as many as 10 senior players being left on the treatment table so far, but Klopp hailed the impact of the youngsters who have come in to pick up the slack.
"We had some problems injury-wise, we lost some top, top, top, top class players to injuries, then of course it's one goal closes and another opens up, that's how it is," he said during a Champions League press conference on Tuesday.
A brilliant moment between the boss and Caoimhin ❤️ pic.twitter.com/GASYksxZsM
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 5, 2020
"But then you still need the right kids to use that chance, and all the boys did it."
He listed the names of a number of youngsters who had featured for Liverpool recently before turning his attention to Kelleher.
"Caoim was always a talent, now he got the chance to show that on the big stage. [He] used his opportunity, nicely for him.
"Without them we would've been lost to be honest without these boys."
During Kelleher's debut against Ajax last week, two academy graduates Neco Williams and Curtis Jones combined for the only goal of the game, while the Irish keeper saved a point-blank header from veteran striker Klass Jan Huntelaar with just minutes to go to effectively seal the points for Liverpool.
During Sunday's victory against Wolves, Kelleher's name was in the headlines, but not for the reason he might have imagined.
His name was embarrassingly misspelled on the back of his jersey in what will likely not be the last time he English struggle with Irish spelling.
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) December 6, 2020