Maurizio Sarri says he wants to “send a message” with his decision on whether or not to select Kepa against Tottenham.
The Chelsea goalkeeper has been fined a week’s wages and issued an apology for refusing to leave the pitch when under-pressure head coach Sarri tried to substitute him during Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.
And Sarri was asked at a media conference on Tuesday if Kepa will play in the vital Premier League match against Spurs.
He replied: “I don’t know. I have to decide. Maybe yes, maybe not. It will be a decision for the group. I will decide for my group.
“I want to send a message to my group. The message could be that Kepa is on the pitch or Kepa is out of the pitch. I have to decide what is better.
“He made a mistake – a big mistake. There are some consequences. If the consequence is to play, he has to be ready to play. If the consequence is the bench, he has to be ready to go to the bench.”
Just as he did after Sunday’s match at Wembley, Sarri described the incident as “a big misunderstanding” and sought to draw a line under it.
He was clearly furious when Kepa refused to come off but has since insisted the Spaniard was simply making it clear he was fit to continue despite Sarri believing he was injured.
Sarri was asked at the media conference why, then, he appeared to storm towards the tunnel in anger before returning to the technical area.
He admitted he “needed one minute to become calm” because he was so angry.
Nevertheless, Sarri insisted the matter was now “finished”. He also revealed that Kepa had apologised to the Chelsea squad as well as the coaching staff.
Sarri explained: “I spoke with Kepa of course. Then we spoke all together. He said sorry to the technical staff but it was not enough. Then he said sorry to the team-mates and to the club.
“He made a big mistake. But we need to be tolerant. We don’t want to kill him.”