Emma Hayes says squad depth will be vital in the coming weeks as a huge run of fixtures for Chelsea Women continues with an FA Cup trip to Reading on Sunday.
After the trip to the Madejski we travel to Lyon for the first leg of our Champions League quarter-final tie. Before the return game at Stamford Bridge, we have another gargantuan match, away to title rivals Manchester City in the WSL.
For Hayes the short-term focus is of course on the FA Cup, and the boss explained at her press conference at Cobham today why she will need her whole group with injuries and illness playing their part.
‘It’s par for the course for this time of year,’ she said.
‘We have to roll with it. We had it last week with Manchester United. Guro was sick before the game, we had a couple of injuries.
‘The whole squad has worked so hard so each and every one of us is able to play their best part. I know what we’ve developed over time. We’ve built a team to cope with these situations.
‘Our goal is to make sure not only we’re competing, but everybody feels like they can play their part. The squad I talk about so much every week will certainly come into play in the next few weeks. We’re going to need every single player.’
It’s been another successful week for Chelsea Women. The night after we edged past Manchester United, Sam Kerr and Lauren James were named the WSL Player and Young Player of the Year respectively at the London Football Awards.
Hayes was thrilled to see more recognition bestowed upon her players.
‘We celebrate all their achievements in-house. We had Ann [Katrin Berger] who was nominated for top three goalkeepers in the world [at the FIFA Best awards], we had Jessie Fleming [nominated for FIFA Best women's player], and Sam and Lauren at the LFA awards.
‘Internally we always celebrate their individual success as part of a team. That’s something we’ve done as a tradition ever since I’ve been here.’
There has been discussion this week regarding the issue of prize money in the women’s game after FIFA president Gianni Infantino announced FIFA’s intention for equal prize money by the 2027 Women’s World Cup.
There remains a significant gulf between prize money in the FA Cup in this country, with victorious quarter-finalists in the men’s game this weekend taking home £450,000, in contrast to £45,000 for the winning women’s teams.
Hayes was asked if more focus in England should be placed on that difference rather than in the World Cup.
‘They’re all important,’ Hayes stressed.
‘The reason there should be more prize money is not about the top teams, it’s about the teams throughout the pyramid. The opportunity to host an FA Cup game and get something from it is equally critical.
‘We’re seeing incremental growth, but of course it’s not the level anybody wants it to be at. My hope is one day we can get to a place we don’t have this conversation and the smaller clubs can be looked after.
‘It’s important the prize money, whether it be domestically or internationally – we’re talking about the World Cup - let’s hope it goes to the players,’ added Hayes.
‘We still have to put in place mechanisms to make sure that happens. There’s still so much work to be done. I’m always invested in making sure the whole game keeps benefitting from the success of any of the teams in it.’