Emma Hayes has stressed the importance of having the right mentality ahead of Chelsea's fifth-round tie against Crystal Palace in the Adobe Women’s FA Cup at Kingsmeadow.

Having come through extra-time against West Ham United to progress from the fourth round, we continue the defence of our crown with another London derby on Sunday.

It has been an electric start to the month for the Blues who have netted eight goals without reply across two different competitions. A 3-0 victory over Everton in the Barclays Women’s Super League preceded a 5-0 win over Sunderland as we progressed to the Women’s League Cup semi-finals.

Ahead of our FA Cup clash with Crystal Palace, Hayes spoke highly of our opponents, who are pushing for promotion to the WSL, and reiterated the need to approach the game in the right manner if we are to progress.

We will go up against a Palace team who have enjoyed a successful season this far; the Eagles occupy third in the Championship and are just three points off top spot.

‘We have to acknowledge that they’re flying high,' explained Hayes. 'They’re contenders to go up. I’ve watched them: they’re an organised team, they make it difficult out of possession, and they’re a threat going forward. They mean business.’

Having won the competition in each of the last three seasons, our affinity with the FA Cup cannot cloud our judgement going into this game. Hayes says our preparations must be spot on to ensure we are ready for the challenge that Palace will pose.

‘It’s the FA Cup, a trophy that is dear to us. It’s a really important match and it’s important we get our mentality right. It’s tough to break down teams that sit in blocks and I expect much of the same on Sunday. I want to see a good training week from players to make sure we’re ready.’

There was a first Chelsea start for Maika Hamano against Sunderland on Wednesday night, much to the delight of the Blues faithful eager to catch a glimpse of the young starlet in action.

However, Hayes says opportunities for players to impress are earned and not given. ‘I’m not here to hand out playing time just for the sake of it,' explained the Chelsea manager.

'We’re trying to win medals and I often try to find the right moments to do it. If everybody keeps training the way they are then I’m sure there will be opportunities, I just don’t know when.’