Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has proven that out-of-favour goalkeeper Kepa is in rivalry to start in opposition to Liverpool in Wednesday’s fifth-round FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge.
Kepa has been compelled to take a seat on the bench for the Blues’ closing six matches across all competitions after being dropped before the winter break.
The Spain international was made to pay for a string of underwhelming performances between the sticks, with variety two Willy Cabellero drafted in as his replacement.
Questions have been requested over the £72 million ($92m) shot stopper’s future as a result, however Lampard has now hinted that a recall could be on the cards.
“Yes, Kepa [is in contention],” Lampard told a press conference. “He has been professional as expected, trained properly and kept his head down, aiding the team and the group. He has been good, however I say the identical every week as I get asked this every week.”
When pressed on whether or not he is planning to rely on Kepa in the long-term, Lampard responded: “Yeah, every player is in control of their future in how they train and how they play.
“This is Chelsea and we’re trying to close the gap to the top, so there can be no one who is at ease or loose, we have to push each and every day.
“And strive to win the game in the front of us, train properly on the day in front of you.
“Of course, we have to look at the team in the summer. But there are no selections beyond the game tomorrow night as far as I’m concerned.”
The 41-year-old brought on the challenge Liverpool will pose his side: “We will field a team that gives the entirety to get into the next round against a very sturdy Liverpool team.
“The team I put out must provide the entirety to compete with Liverpool, as we have done twice this season. We’ve competed very well towards them and had been likely unfortunate to lose on each occasions.
“So we have to approach it with the same spirit. We desire to win it [the FA Cup] however winning something is typically a phrase that has long gone out of the Premier League unless you are Manchester City or Liverpool, extraordinarily much, in the last couple of years.
“They have made so many strides and long gone out on their own slightly so we have to recognize that the landscape has changed and try to bridge the gap.”
Liverpool played their Under-23 team in the fourth-round replay towards Shrewsbury Town and left out all of their star names in the third-round win over Everton , as well as making huge changes for the duration of their Carabao Cup campaign.
But with the FA Cup now at the last-16 stage, Chelsea are planning for a Liverpool starting XI that resembles their Premier League choices as Jurgen Klopp’s men look to bounce back from their first top-flight defeat of the season against
Watford on Saturday.
“We would anticipate Liverpool to put out a strong team, I presume they will play their strongest team, there or thereabouts,” Lampard said.
“We understand whatever team they put out they will give us a very sturdy match. We have to play with a huge spirit and we will have to be at our best. The
“Their defeat in opposition to Watford won’t make it any less difficult for us. With the kind of manager and players that they have, it can be a wake-up call in a right way as well. It depends on how you take it.
“When you seem to be at them they look like a team of excellent experts with a manager who is very driven. So things like that can make this game even harder for us.
“They became enormously human for one game, that can show up in this Premier League which is highly competitive. It shows how well they have done in the remaining year or so, specifically this season.”