Thomas Tuchel praises Mendy, says the Frenchman deserves position of first-choice keeper

Mendy has slowly carved out his name as the first-choice in Chelsea's goal after Kepa Arrizabalaga lost his place under former manager Lampard.

Mendy has taken over record signing Kepa's place as first-choice keeper   -  REUTERS

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel solidified Edouard Mendy’s position as the first-choice keeper but said that record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga must be ready to step in when the situation demands it.

Kepa was signed from Athletic Bilbao for a club-record 71 million pounds ($99.39 million) in 2018 but the Spain international lost his place in the Chelsea side under previous manager Frank Lampard after a string of high-profile errors.

The Londoners signed Mendy from Stade Rennes last year after losing confidence in Kepa and Tuchel said the Senegal international had impressively staked his claim to be the first choice ahead of the Spaniard and Argentine Willy Caballero.

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"Edouard is the number one and deserves to be the number one. You cannot hide your opinion, things have to be clear and you cannot be afraid of it," Tuchel told reporters ahead of Saturday's trip to Southampton.

Chelsea has midfielder Kai Havertz back at their disposal while striker Tammy Abraham has recovered from an ankle injury. However, American winger Christian Pulisic remains sidelined with a calf problem while defender Thiago Silva is also out with a muscle issue.

Winger Hakim Ziyech, meanwhile, has found minutes hard to come by under Tuchel who has chosen to leave him out.

"There are some decisions for other players that means Hakim suffers at the moment, I can understand, so it is my responsibility in this case that he cannot show more.

"When I look at the rhythm and schedule for the next days I am sure we will need all of our players."

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