Mendy deserves to be Chelsea's first-choice keeper, says Tuchel

FILE PHOTO: Premier League - Chelsea v Newcastle United

LONDON (Reuters) - Chelsea's Edouard Mendy will remain first choice goalkeeper but record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga must be ready to step in when the situation demands it, manager Thomas Tuchel said on Friday.

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 Chelea 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 first choice ahead of the Spaniard and Argentine Willy Caballero.

"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.

"Things have not changed, we need three strong goalkeepers and everybody ready. The goals to achieve are high at this club, we need all 22 players to be ready now. If it is for five minutes, then be ready for five minutes."

Midfielder Kai Havertz is fit again while striker Tammy Abraham has recovered from an ankle injury, but 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.

"Hakim and some other players here are hard decisions to make, it's a good thing because it means we have quality," he added.

"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."

($1 = 0.7143 pounds)

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)