The Reds get their Carabao Cup campaign underway against the League One outfit on Wednesday night
Liverpool are ready to hand goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher his professional debut against MK Dons this week.
The Reds are expected to make significant changes to their line-up for Wednesday’s Carabao Cup third-round clash, with a host of first-team regulars set to be rested for the game against the League One outfit.
The likes of Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane can all expect the night off, while it would be a surprise if Jurgen Klopp was to risk either Trent Alexander-Arnold or Andy Robertson. Adrian, too, is likely to be protected, with first-choice keeper Alisson Becker still weeks away from returning after a torn calf.
And, though no final decision has been made yet, the likelihood is that the 20-year-old Kelleher will get his chance at Stadium MK. The Republic of Ireland youth international has been on the bench for Liverpool’s last six games but is now being primed to make his first competitive appearance for the club.
Cork-born Kelleher joined the Reds in 2015 from local side Ringmahon Rangers, and is rated highly by coaching staff at Melwood. He is already an Ireland Under-21 international.
A broken wrist suffered on holiday during the summer, when he fell off a bike, denied him the chance to make his debut sooner. Liverpool were forced to sign Adrian on a free transfer when Simon Mignolet departed for Club Brugge in August, and the Spaniard has impressed as deputy for Alisson, who picked up an injury in the Premier League opener against Norwich.
Liverpool have exited the League Cup at the first hurdle in both of the previous two seasons, beaten at Leicester in 2017 and at home to Chelsea last year. Despite that, Klopp is ready to ring the changes again for the trip to Milton Keynes.
It will mean rare outings for the likes of Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, who should both start in defence. Adam Lallana, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri will all expect to feature, while Naby Keita could make his return from injury in midfield. Rhian Brewster, the teenage striker, is also in line to make his long-awaited competitive debut.
Selection is complicated slightly by the fact Liverpool’s Under-23s have an EFL Trophy tie at Fleetwood on the same evening, but youngsters such as Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Adam Lewis, Ki-Jana Hoever and Sepp van den Berg could all be drafted into the senior squad as well, as Klopp seeks to manage the fitness of his key first teamers.
Liverpool restored their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League by beating Chelsea 2-1 at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, but Klopp revealed afterwards that Mane had taken “a bad knock” during the game, which had eventually forced him to be substituted.
The Reds are already monitoring the fitness of striker Divock Origi, who twisted an ankle against Newcastle last week, so will take no unnecessary risks with any of their star men at this point. They travel to Sheffield United for the early kick-off on Saturday.