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Emma Hayes: Looking forward to defending our title

Chelsea FC Women manager Emma Hayes held a press conference at Cobham via Zoom to look forward to Sunday’s Continental Tyres League Cup final against Bristol City. 

The Blues have the chance to defend the Continental League Cup in two days’ time as we meet Bristol at Watford’s Vicarage Road. The match kicks off at 2.30pm.

During her media conference, Hayes spoke about our opposition, winning silverware and the importance of her squad being rested and recovered for the special occasion.

Chelsea Women squad news

Bethany England was replaced in the first half of our round-of-16 second leg versus Atletico Madrid following a clash of heads with a defender, and Hayes gave an update on the Chelsea No.9.

‘Beth got a concussion on Wednesday and didn’t make it home with the team that night, she’s due to fly home tonight [Thursday].

‘She’s groggy, she took a couple of blows to the head. I’m disappointed with the officials, I’m disappointed they didn’t take seriously maybe some of those moments but just thankful her scan is clear, we’re in a good position but she will be out at the weekend.’

Hayes commented on Bristol City’s recent form and explained the qualities they have…

‘I think they have been brilliant. This side of Christmas they’ve been brilliant on the counter, you can see that they are finding another level of their attacking play.

‘They’re fighting to stay in the league and their efforts in that last game was absolutely superb. You’ve seen [Ebony] Salmon on the counter and with the qualities she’s got, they seemed to have found something that works for them.

‘It’s a final, I’m approaching this final in exactly the same way I do every game. Regardless of the opponent, as you know with football, there is no such thing as a comfortable game.

‘Cups are about one-off events where it’s evens. Yes, there is no doubt that we’ve got more experience in being in this position than them but think about this, they have got all the freedom of knowing they don’t have that pressure or expectation, they can just go and play and enjoy themselves.

‘Off the back of their game last week, there is no doubt that this team will come out and play with the mentality that Matt’s [Beard] instilled in them and I always think they are the teams that you must watch the most.’

Chelsea have had a busy week having played three games in short succession, but Hayes insisted her squad will be fully prepared come Sunday’s showpiece event

‘Playing with 10 players last week really took it out of us and that’s understandable. I do think we will recover for the weekend.

‘That 10-player game last week, plus West Ham, plus the away game played a huge part of the type of performance we delivered. I always felt that away game [against Atletico] was going to be extremely tough and it turned out to be.

‘This group know how to do it though, I know that everybody will be working on their recovery strategies and we’ll be ready to go come Sunday afternoon and how could you not be, it’s a final.

‘An extra recovery day is going to help us and we’re just really looking forward to defending our title.’

The Chelsea manager paid tribute to forward Fran Kirby who has continued to push boundaries throughout difficult periods of her life and career

‘I never had any doubts but it wasn’t important anyway. What was important was her life and what was important that she knew that I stood completely beside her.

‘She had my trust and confidence and I value that. I value that relationship and everybody knows I’m extremely protective of Fran.

‘When I watched her on Wednesday, I watched a woman that has grown into the person she has because of the setbacks she’s experienced but the work she’s done on herself is remarkable.

‘I’d urge any footballer to have a look at what Fran’s been through and look at the reminders of how to appreciate what you have and how to appreciate the most important things. I told her in a text I’m so, so proud of her.’

The Chelsea boss admitted she thinks it will be a difficult task to clinch domestic trophies while competing on the European stage, but believes her team can if they keep up the ‘hunger’

‘I’ve always said that the team that go the furthest in the Champions League will always struggle to win maybe domestic honours as well.

‘I always felt that the club outside of the Champions League were going to be the biggest favourite for the league this year but fortunately for us and even Man City we’ve been able to show our qualities even with a game's accumulation.

‘Winning breeds winning but we haven’t accomplished anything, we haven’t achieved anything, so we have got to keep that hunger and that endurance as high as possible if we’re going to be in for a shot of winning.’

Sunday's final kicks off at 2:30pm and is live on BT Sport. 

 

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