Emma Hayes is confident her side can bounce back in our first Women’s Super League home game of the season, although they may be without the services of Pernille Harder again for visiting Manchester City.
The Blues were beaten at Liverpool on the opening weekend and need an answer in a sold-out Kingsmeadow on Sunday afternoon, a match which will also be shown live on Sky Sports.
Speaking in his usual pre-match press conference, Hayes assessed this task and the challenges it expects from City, but started with the latest squad 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 a hamstring problem.
“She had a scan, she came out today but we won’t know until tomorrow if she will be available. She is with the medical team, not with the team, but other than that, everyone is suitable for selection.
Kadeisha Buchanan was the only of our summer signings to start on Merseyside and it was familiar face Fran Kirby who opened the scoring for the Blues before Liverpool fought back in the final quarter of the competition.
While a host of other newcomers have made their debut on the bench, Hayes accepts that time is often the most important commodity for those taking their first steps at a new club.
“I was aware even last weekend how many of those who started were new players because there was only one – Kadeisha Buchanan – so it takes time for new players to come on board. ‘install,” Hayes continued.
Lauren [James] maybe you could consider another one, but ultimately nine of our 11 featured fairly regularly last season. Our new players understand that they must adapt, learn and play their roles until they understand the philosophy and methodology of the Principles of Play.
“Sometimes it’s really difficult when you have a short pre-season and some people like Jelena Cankovic only started training with the group after the international break.
Despite last weekend’s loss, Hayes has been pleased with her players’ reaction to training at Cobham since, although she knows those improved levels of focus and quality will be needed against the side who 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 responsible and mature, and the only thing I’ve seen is an improvement in the team’s response to things collectively, without going inward, so everyone has doing his best this week.
“City have quality throughout and they improved their performance in every game they played against us last year. This will give them confidence.
“What we’ve talked about internally is that the way we control the game needs to improve. There’s a request from me and a preparation around how to do that. I want to see our team put implement what we work so hard on in training.