BY PAUL LAGAN
Emma Hayes is delighted that her team is ticking over, and Sunday’s 6-0 rout of Doncaster Rovers Belles in the FA Cup sets up Saturday’s almost certain league title-decider against Manchester City in Manchester nicely, while she hopes more of her players get a call-up for England.
Phil Neville will announce his first squad shortly and there is a buzz around Kingsmeadow that at least five players will get the nod for the up-coming SheBelieves Cup tournament in Ohio, USA in early March.
But first the Blues have a league match against Yeovil Town tomorrow to contend with.
The West Country side are bottom of WSL1, with no wins and no goals to their name.
While an upset is unlikely, it still is a possiblilty. But it’s the return league fixture against City which will dominate Haye’s thinking this week.
Chelsea will face Liverpool away on Sunday, March 18 in the quarter-final of the FA Cup following the win over the Belles.
Goals from Ji-So Yun, Fran Kirby, Drew Spence, a brace from Erin Cuthbert and a penalty from Ramona Bachmann saw off a spirited if futile resistance from the Yorkshire side.
Hayes was delighted with the result: “I think we took a while to get into the game,” she said.
“But we did create chances in the first half. After the first goal, unless you get a second, which we should have done, then you leave them hanging in there.”
Was there a hairdryer moment to the players at half time? “No, quite the opposite,” she said. “We need just to improve using the full pitch, opening up and moving the ball more quickly.
“All the subs had a massive impact. I thought Eni (Aluko) and Erin (Cuthbert) who were waiting patiently for their chances opened then up and were clinical.”
Anita Asante was named skipper as Hayes rested Katie Chapman and Gilly Flaherty. The former Arsenal defender relished the role and is firmly in England manager Phil Neville’s thoughts as he names his first England squad this week.
“I think for us it’s about rotating the captaincy around a little bit,” said Hayes.
“Having a look at other options for different leaders. We have a lot.
“We are trying to develop that leadership in the dressing room too, so I suspect, when Katie (Chapman) is not on the pitch – it will rotate around.”
On the England front, Hayes is keen to see more Chelsea players back in a Lionesses shirt. She said: “I’ve never understood why more of my players haven’t been called up for England.
“I have been communicating with Phil. I’m hoping that there will be more than the three players that have often been included in the squad. But I don’t know how many.”
In Neville’s first squad should be Fran Kirby, Millie Bright and Carley Telford. In addition, Hannah Blundell and a Lioness recall for new signing Anita Asante are on the cards.