Frank Lampard insists he is under no pressure to sell out-of-favour Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Lampard revealed the Spain international will start Tuesday’s dead-rubber Champions League clash with Krasnodar at Stamford Bridge.
The 26-year-old will make his first appearance since October, having slipped out of the team following Edouard Mendy’s £20million arrival from Rennes.
Kepa became a £71million world-record signing for a goalkeeper when joining Chelsea from Athletic Bilbao in 2018, but has failed to convince at Stamford Bridge and especially under Lampard.
Lampard has previously admitted Kepa was struggling with his confidence and form, but Chelsea have already won Group E leaving Tuesday’s clash the ideal opportunity to rotate resources.
Chelsea could reasonably seek to cut any losses on Kepa, but Lampard insisted the club’s board have made no such moves.
Asked if he is under any pressure to move Kepa on, Lampard said: “No, there’s no pressure. The pressure, and I’m not saying this has been spoken about, is to win games.
“I have to do the right thing game by game of course.
“And Mendy has made himself a permanent fixture at this point.
“Because the pressure to win games means I pick people in form, goalkeeper, striker, winger, whoever.
“But at the same time with the game tomorrow it’s obviously an opportunity to give Edou a rest and Kepa a game; he’s been training well and he deserves it.
“Kepa will start against Krasnodar. Like I said about the group as a whole, it’s about attitude and how we approach the game.
Kepa situation is different
“Of course Kepa’s situation is slightly different, because the goalkeepers have to be patient when they’re not starting games.
“And generally obviously with Edou’s form he’s been a very regular pick for me.
“But of course for this game it’s a game for Kepa, who’s training brilliantly well, acting brilliantly well.
“These periods will happen in players’ careers, and sometimes they will make you stronger and better at the other end. So I’ve got no qualms about putting him back in.”
Mendy has already kept nine clean sheets with Chelsea, having only made the switch from Rennes at the end of September.
While Kepa will doubtless have been frustrated by losing his number-one status with the Blues, Lampard praised the Spaniard’s response, especially in training.
“Kepa’s been very supportive with Edou, and I see that, I see it from afar sometimes, the goalkeepers, they work together with Hilario a lot,” said Lampard.
“But what I do see, watching from afar, is someone that’s supporting him, quietly, as is his right, and someone who’s training really well.
“And that’s the main thing I look at, because the training, particularly the goalkeepers, it can’t only be one goalkeeper who trains at a level – they have to push each other, and I see that within the group.
“And I’m very pleased with Kepa. His reaction has been spot-on.”
Hudson-Odoi on sidelines
Callum Hudson-Odoi will miss the Krasnodar clash having picked up a hamstring problem in training.
The Blues are still waiting to discover the extent of Hakim Ziyech’s hamstring problem, but Lampard hopes the Morocco winger will avoid a long-term issue.
“Hakim’s going for a scan this afternoon, so we’ll have more information tomorrow,” said Lampard.
“He’s out and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s out too, with a hamstring problem picked up in training yesterday as well.
“I hope it’s a minor injury for Hakim and we’ll find out from the scan.
“The feeling he has had is that it doesn’t feel too bad so it will mean we are talking a couple of weeks but I will have to wait for the scan on that one.”