Emma Hayes is confident that her side can bounce back in our first home Women’s Super League game of the season, although she may be without the services of Pernille Harder once again for the visit of Manchester City.
The Blues were beaten away at Liverpool on the opening weekend and need a response at a sold-out Kingsmeadow on Sunday afternoon, a match that will also be broadcast live on Sky Sports.
Speaking in her customary pre-match press conference, Hayes assessed that task and the challenges she expects City to present, but started with the latest team news.
‘Pernille was on the grass today [Friday] but I won’t know until tomorrow,’ she said of the Dane’s chances of being involved. ‘During the warm-up [at Liverpool], she had an issue in her hamstring.
‘She’s had a scan on it, she’s gone out today but we won’t be sure until tomorrow if she’ll be available. She’s with the medical team, not with the team, but apart from that everybody is fit for selection.’
Kadeisha Buchanan was the only one of our summer signings to start on Merseyside and it was the familiar face of Fran Kirby who opened the scoring for the Blues before Liverpool hit back in the final quarter of the contest.
While a host of other new arrivals did make their debuts off the bench, Hayes accepts that time is often the most important commodity to those making their first steps at a new club.
‘I was conscious even last weekend how many of those who started were new players because it was only one - Kadeisha Buchanan - so it does take time for the new players to settle in,’ continued Hayes.
‘Lauren [James] you could maybe consider another one but ultimately nine from our 11 featured quite regularly last season. Our new players understand that they have to adapt and learn and play their roles until they understand the philosophy and methodology within the playing principles.
‘Sometimes that’s really difficult when you have a short pre-season and some people like Jelena Cankovic didn’t start training with the group until after the international break.’
Despite last weekend’s defeat, Hayes has been pleased with the reaction of her players in training at Cobham since, though she knows those improved levels of concentration and quality will be needed against the side that finished two places below the Blues in the WSL last season.
‘It’s been a good week of training,’ she added. ‘I never worry about that with my group. There are so many leaders in the dressing room who are accountable and mature, and the one thing I have seen is an improvement in the team’s response to things collectively, not going inward, so everybody has given the best they can this week.
‘City have quality throughout and they were improving their performances with every game they played against us last year. That will give them confidence.
‘What we’ve been talking about internally is that how we control the game has to improve. There’s a demand from me and preparation around how to do that. I want to see our team implement what we work so hard on in training.’