Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has credited Kepa Arrizabalaga for the way he’s performed in training, as well as admitting he will start Tuesday night in the Champions League group stages.
The 26-year-old goalkeeper hasn’t played a single game since mid-October after losing his number one position to summer signing Edouard Mendy, who has been a colossus in net since his arrival from Rennes.
Kepa endured a horrid second season at Chelsea last year, which prompted the club to find a replacement in the summer window.
Despite arriving to the Premier League as a highly-rated talent from La Liga club Athletic Bilbao, the Spaniard has had a spate of individual mistakes completely tarnish his reputation and his confidence must be at an all-time low.
Lampard has confirmed that he will be reinstated to the XI though on Tuesday against Russian club Krasnodar at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have already qualified as group winners in the Champions League, meaning it’s the perfect chance for the manager to give some of the fringe players in the squad an opportunity to impress.
“It’s a game for Kepa, who’s training brilliantly well, acting brilliantly well,” Lampard said, as quoted by Football.London.
“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 [against Krasnodar].”
It would go down as a remarkable comeback if Kepa manages to turn his Chelsea career around and that looks unlikely due to the way Mendy has impressed in the past couple of months.
But it’s a least a chance for him to get some competitive minutes tonight in the Champions League and perhaps he needs a big performance to put himself in the shop window.