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Republic of Ireland U21s boss Kenny challenges Kelleher to progress at Liverpool
Ireland are seeded fourth in a tough qualification group.
Stephen Kenny has challenged Republic of Ireland Under-21s keeper Caoimhin Kelleher to ready himself for senior football at Liverpool by thriving on the international stage.
The 20-year-old is in line to win his latest cap on Friday evening when Ireland entertain Armenia at Tallaght Stadium having opened their Group 1 campaign with a 3-0 win over Luxembourg in March.
Manager Kenny has been impressed with what he has seen from Kelleher, who picked up a Champions League winners’ medal last season, and is confident there is more to come.
He said: “Caoimhin has such a great temperament for a goalkeeper. Nothing fazes him and his distribution from the back is excellent, and he has great agility. For us, he’s been very consistent.
“It’s one thing being on the bench for Liverpool, but having the six Under-21 international games has really helped him, and there’s another six there over the next three months.
“He’s progressing really well at Liverpool.”
The Republic are seeded fourth in a group which also includes Italy, Iceland and Sweden and while Kenny knows that represents a big ask, he is not daunted by the prospect.
He said: “It’s a very tough group, very tough. I thought Italy were probably the best side – I was at the European Under-21 Championships in Italy this year, and I thought they were outstanding.
“They didn’t quite win it – Spain won it in the end – but I thought they were very good, and a lot of that group are in this group.
“Sweden are highly-regarded and Armenia… We can’t look beyond Armenia because they had a good win against Moldova recently.
“We’ll have to build on our performances to date and try to get a big win.”
Lee O’Connor is part of the squad after completing his move from Manchester United to Celtic, as for the first time is 17-year-old Tottenham striker Troy Parrott.