Emma Hayes: I can’t wait to watch us play tomorrow night!

The Blues are finally set to get their first game of 2022 under their belt tomorrow as Emma Hayes’ side take on West Ham United in the quarter-final of the Continental Cup, a game that can be watched on The 5th Stand and chelseafc.com

Hayes, who was yesterday named as The Best FIFA Women’s Coach for 2021, says her team are ‘really looking forward’ to tomorrow evening’s game.

Speaking in a press conference, she said: ‘There’s so many different, amazing coaches that are deserving of these awards, just as there are players. I’m happy to receive it and also grateful that I work with such brilliant people here at Chelsea that allow me to do my job every day.’

Ahead of tomorrow evening’s game Hayes offered a team news update, revealing omissions for Magdalena Eriksson and Melanie Leupolz.

‘Magda’s still out from Wolfsburg, we don’t have a timeline on that. Melanie is struggling with a little bit of long Covid, those two, Lauren [James] and Maren [Mjelde] for sure are out, so we have a small squad.’

We will also be without striker Sam Kerr and midfielder Ji So-Yun due to their participation in the Asian Cup.

‘We will be watching them, we’re proud of them and I know we miss them as they miss us, but we’ve got a quality group of players here that are ready for whatever we have to face in this period.’

The Blues haven’t played a game since 16 December and Hayes discussed how she has enjoyed spending time on the grass with the team.

‘I’ve really enjoyed training, the fact that we’ve had a training block with the players that we have had, has been really nice to spend time on things we haven’t had the chance to do because you’re playing a game every three days and you’re off on recovery. So, from a coach’s perspective it’s nice to be back on the grass and coaching.’

With West Ham scoring a stoppage-time equaliser against Tottenham Hotspur in the Women’s Super League on Sunday evening, Hayes says she won’t be taking Olli Harder’s team lightly tomorrow night.

‘I was really impressed with their resilience; I always feel when I watch West Ham play, they know how to stay in a game. I think Olli’s done a great job with them, they’re difficult to play against and I always felt they were going to nick a goal in that game and that’s a credit to him and the players for their ability to stay in a game even though they didn’t have most of the ball.

‘We know it’s going to be a tough, tough game.’

The Blues have won the Continental Cup for the past two consecutive years, beating Arsenal in 2020 and Bristol City in 2021. The games are set to come thick and fast for the Blues in the coming weeks and months, Hayes exclaimed she’s just keen to see her team back in action.

‘We’re excited!’ Hayes said. ‘We want to play football and we’re just really looking forward to the game. We’ve all learned to deal with the fact that things change, and you can’t spend time procrastinating or moping, we just have to stay in a good mindset every day. The group have done really, really well. We’ve had some great training sessions, I’ve enjoyed this training block and the chance to develop.

‘I do my best every day to prepare the team for the game and within that, try to give the individuals everything they need.

‘It’s a cup game so there’s a lot at stake for both teams. I think for us, we’re as prepared as we can be going into that game. I’m looking forward to it, I can’t wait to watch us play tomorrow night.’

Blues fans will be able to watch tomorrow evening's game live on the Chelsea website and the 5th Stand App.

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