Emma Hayes on clash with Tottenham Hotspur, Fran Kirby fitness update and state of title race

Chelsea FC Women boss Emma Hayes spoke this afternoon as the Blues prepare to host Tottenham Hotspur in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League at Kingsmeadow tomorrow evening, in a contest lined up to be a crucial one in this season's campaign...

A win against Rehanne Skinner’s side could see Chelsea leapfrog Arsenal and top the WSL table for the first time this season.

Speaking at Cobham this afternoon, Hayes said: ‘I’ve enjoyed being in this position, it makes a change for us. Everybody knows there’s a long way to go. It will go, as I’ve said all along, all the way to the wire and I stand by it. I know we have to win every game. If we drop points, then it’s clearly in Arsenal’s hands.

‘Every game feels much tougher and for that reason the players have learned not to take it for granted. For me, this doesn’t feel different to any other season. It’s the last climb, it’s the last part. This is something that everybody here is quite used to.’

Tomorrow’s clash against Spurs is the Blues’ sixth game in March alone. Hayes discussed the congested fixture list, adding: ‘We’re in a cycle at the minute, we know there’s lots of games, we have got used to it.’

Blues captain Magdalena Eriksson has recently returned from injury alongside Maren Mjelde, Erin Cuthbert and Bethany England. Hayes noted the importance of players returning from the side lines for the final stretch of the campaign.

‘The good thing for us is we’ve got players coming back, that’s something we haven’t had in a while. Having players come back to the squad to give us a bit more depth has been really, really helpful.’

The squad have continued to perform on the pitch despite the off-field noise. Speaking on the matter, the Chelsea boss said: ‘I have the beautiful task of running the football team which is the job I enjoy the most. I actually haven’t spoken to anyone upstairs in the last couple of days, I’m sure I’ll check in but when I get into game mode, all I want to focus on is this.

‘As I’ve said many times, we need to let the board take the time to get it right. That’s important that the process, the due diligence takes place and it’s not about rushing that. For me the priority is getting fans back into the stadium.’

Hayes also provided an update on Fran Kirby, revealing the reason behind our No.14’s recent omission from the squad.

‘[Fran] won’t be available this week. She’s been tired so we’re giving her some time at the minute, nothing more than that. We’ve had an Olympics, two weeks' holiday, then back in. It’s taken its toll on some of the players – I don’t think it’s just Fran.

‘I’ve taken her out of the spotlight a little bit and given her some time to recover because it’s important she regains her freshness, and at the moment she’s not available for selection.’

Skinner’s Tottenham side currently sit fifth in the WSL and are in contention to clinch a Champions League spot for the first time in their history. On the Spurs boss, Hayes commented: ‘She’s had an amazing impact on that group. The previous leadership had set a great foundation from which she’s taken on another level with investment and new players and they’ve solidified their position in the top half of the table.

‘They’ve had an amazing season and they will play a major part in where the title ends up. That for me has been a remarkable year for them irrespective of where they finish, they’re a group that won’t give up. They’ve been consistent in everything they’re doing, and I really know what a tough game we’ve got tomorrow night.’

Tomorrow evening’s game against Spurs kicks off at 7.45pm (UK time) and will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football with coverage starting from 7pm. Please note, no tickets for this game are on sale online or at the stadium. Already purchased tickets, including season tickets, remain valid.

You can follow all the latest match news on our social channels @ChelseaFCW.

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