‘I will be ready’ – Kepa discusses Mendy AFCON absence

Jason Soutar
Kepa Arrizabalaga saving a penalty

Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga insists he will be “ready” to step up when No 1 goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is away at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mendy is likely to be absent for up to four weeks with Senegal at the continental competition which begins in January.

Kepa has featured primarily in the Carabao Cup this season. He was the penalty shootout hero on Tuesday evening as the Blues knocked out Southampton.

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The Spaniard performed the same heroics in the round prior against Aston Villa and also helped Chelsea defeat Villarreal on penalties in the Super Cup final in August.

Kepa only made his fourth appearance of the season in the victory over the Saints. Despite his lack of game time, he is confident he will be ready to replace the absent Mendy.

“Well, it’s two months away. Of course we know it can happen and I will be ready but we have a lot of games until we start thinking about that,” he said.

“Let’s go step by step and we’ll see what happens. If he goes to the African Cup, all the best and I’ll be ready. But it’s still a long way to arrive at that point.”

On his penalty heroics, Kepa added: “I’ve always said I try to help the team in the best way but I do feel really good at penalties.

“I feel confident. It’s a bit of luck, a bit of work, a bit of everything but I feel really good.

“Of course I want to play more regularly. My last game was also a cup game, more or less a month ago, so it’s not easy to sometimes step in and feel the same as you would if you play every week.

“But I try to be ready, train hard, be involved in the team. Also, I feel the confidence of the manager – this is really important. I’ve felt his support from the beginning and I think when I step in I’m ready to help the team. I’m happy to do that.”

Meanwhile, PSG star Marquinhos has revealed that Chelsea were interested in him during the summer but the French club “blocked talks straight away”.

He said: “No! It wasn’t even an offer. In fact, [PSG] blocked talks straight away.

“It shows the faith they have in me, it is an honour for a club like PSG to put such faith in me.”