Lampard confirms Kepa could return to Chelsea line up for FA Cup clash with Liverpool

The Blues boss has not ruled out starting the Spain goalkeeper ahead of Willy Caballero against the Reds on Wednesday

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has confirmed that out-of-favour goalkeeper Kepa is in contention to start against Liverpool in Wednesday’s fifth-round FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge.

Kepa has been forced to sit on the bench for the Blues’ last 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 number two Willy Cabellero drafted in as his replacement.

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Questions have been asked over the £72 million ($92m) shot stopper’s future as a result, but 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 well and kept his head down, supporting the team and the group. He has been good, but I say the same every week as I get asked this every week.”

When pressed on whether he is planning to rely on Kepa in the long-term, Lampard responded: “Yeah, every player is in control of their destiny 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 relaxed or loose, we have to push every day.

“And try to win the game in front of us, train well on the day in front of you.

“Of course, we have to look at the group in the summer. But there are no decisions beyond the game tomorrow night as far as I’m concerned.”

The 41-year-old added on the challenge Liverpool will pose his side: “We will field a team that gives everything to get into the next round against a very strong Liverpool team.

“The team I put out should give everything to compete with Liverpool, as we have done twice this season. We’ve competed very well against them and were probably unfortunate to lose on both occasions.

“So we have to approach it with the same spirit. We want to win it [the FA Cup] but winning something is usually a phrase that has gone out of the Premier League unless you are Manchester City or Liverpool, pretty much, in the last couple of years.

“They have made so many strides and gone out on their own slightly so we have to understand that the landscape has changed and try to bridge the gap.” 

Liverpool played their Under-23 team in the fourth-round replay against Shrewsbury Town and left out all of their star names in the third-round win over Everton, as well as making huge changes throughout 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 selections as Jurgen Klopp’s men look to bounce back from their first top-flight defeat of the season against Watford on Saturday.

“We would expect Liverpool to put out a strong team, I presume they will play their strongest team, there or thereabouts,” Lampard said.

“We know whatever team they put out they will give us a very strong match. We have to play with a big spirit and we will have to be at our best.

“Their defeat against Watford won’t make it any easier for us. With the type of manager and players that they have, it can be a wake-up call in a good way as well. It depends on how you take it.

“When you look at them they look like a team of fantastic professionals with a manager who is very driven. So things like that can make this game even harder for us.

“They became relatively human for one game, that can happen in this Premier League which is incredibly competitive. It shows how well they have done in the last year or so, especially this season.”

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