Ahead of Chelsea Women’s opening game of the New Year against Reading FC Women, manager Emma Hayes has discussed the league fixture, mentioned the potential involvement of the two new Blues and provided an update on our injured players.
The Chelsea squad, which included new signings Sam Kerr and Jamie-Lee Napier, returned to training on Sunday after the Christmas break. After a week of solid training, Hayes’ side have had plenty of time to prepare for our first game back of the decade.
And the Blues boss knows Sunday’s clash will not be easy, but insists her team are ready for the second half of the campaign.
‘We know what Reading are about, Hayes said. ‘They [Reading] caused us problems in the Conti Cup game, but this is a new opportunity. We’ve got new players and we’ve had time to work on the training pitch.
‘We’re really looking forward to the game and for us we need to just concentrate on what we’re doing and to keep improving that. Our fans have been terrific so far this season and I hope the crowd become an important part of our performance on Sunday.
‘Both have adjusted really well since we came back,’ Hayes replied when asked about the new additions. ‘They fit in seamlessly into the group dynamics and the squad have taken them in as their own.
‘They have certainly shown their qualities in the sessions and demonstrated why we brought them to the club. They are both available for selection, so I will have a decision to make about that.
‘It’s important to know that it takes players a little bit of time to settle into this league here but they’ve got such great team-mates around them that they will make that process easier,’ the Chelsea boss highlighted.
It is full steam ahead for the Blues who embark upon a busy January and Hayes sees the regular fixtures as a positive for team and said: ‘Everybody wants to play games, so the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned.
‘It’s a good opportunity for us to get closer to our objectives and we’re competing on all fronts and that’s all I ask for from my players at this stage of the season. I wanted to make sure that we weren’t out of any trophies and I can say that we’re very much in it.’
The Chelsea manager also provided an injury update on Adelina Engman, Anita Ansate and Maria Thorisdottir, plus an update on Fran Kirby’s absence.
‘Both Adelina [Engman] and Anita [Asante] are making good progress, they had quad injuries and they can be really challenging injuries, so it’s difficult to put a time frame on it.
‘You have to be careful with those muscles, both players are progressing really well and I expect them to be back in the group very soon.
‘Maria [Thorisdottir] had a bone break in her leg but she’s running again, she’s on the grass and I think she is on schedule where she needs to be.
‘But with all injuries it’s extremely difficult to put a time frame on it because everybody heals at different rates. It’s fair to say that all of them are working really hard and are close to being back with the squad.
‘My job is to protect Fran [Kirby] and nothing else. She had a really bad virus that has left her with a lot of fatigue and it’s proved harder to shake off than we all want.
‘We are all desperate for all of our injured and ill players to come back and I am certain they will soon, but we can’t put an exact time on it.’
Tickets for the game, costing £9 for adults and £1 for concessions, are on sale online until 10pm today (Saturday), but will be sold on the door at Kingsmeadow ahead of kick-off from 11am.