Posted on: Thu 20 Sep 2012

As the Chelsea Ladies prepare for our final two league fixtures of the campaign, two of our players have recently enjoyed success on the international stage, as left-back Claire Rafferty explains…

Chelsea Ladies head into their penultimate league game of the season with the focus firmly on the performance of the players as they continue to adapt to Emma Hayes' management style.

The side have little to play for but will be aiming to finish as high up the FAWSL table as possible. The Blues currently sit in fifth place, with Saturday evening's opponents Bristol Academy lying a spot higher in fourth.

Following consecutive league defeats, Hayes will be hoping to guide her side to their third away victory in four attempts, and Claire Rafferty spoke to the official Chelsea website before the trip to Bristol this weekend, stressing the importance of looking ahead.

'We've got a new manager so we're trying to look to the future rather than this season,' she explained.

'For us this season, it hasn't gone as planned, it's been a bit broken with us changing managers, which isn't ideal.

'Obviously we want to try and finish as high as possible, get three points out of the game, and make our opponents' job as difficult as possible.

'We've played Bristol before, we know what to expect, and it should be a good game.'

There was joy for the England women's side yesterday as they ensured automatic qualification for next summer's European Championships in Sweden.

Rafferty played her part in England's 3-0 victory over Croatia, appearing as a late substitute in the win at Walsall, while Chelsea team-mate Dunia Susi was an unused substitute.

'I think now it's a given that we qualify for these major tournaments, we're expecting to do a bit better than just reaching the quarter-finals, we're aiming for the finals now, so the expectation has changed with respect to England,' she says.

'It was great to get on, obviously I would have preferred to play a little bit longer but it was great for the team to progress to the finals next year.'

Elsewhere, the Chelsea FC Girls' Centre of Excellence had an evening to remember at Stamford Bridge last night when 20 of their members led the players out of the tunnel ahead of our Champions League clash against Juventus, just reward for a successful season last year which included an FA Girls' Youth Cup victory for the Under-17s.

Chelsea Ladies take on Bristol Academy at Stoke Gifford Stadium, kick-off 6pm, on Saturday 22 September.