• By Paul Lagan

Hayes: Kirby will be back in the new year


Fran Kirby has been missing from the Chelsea line-up for more than a month and is now not expected to don a Blues shirt until the new year.

Striker Kirby, 25, last played for the Blues in the 2-0 away win at West Ham United on November fourth. She has been struggling with a hamstring injury, but could, if required have played in the recent games.

Chelsea have one more match this year, a dead-rubber Continental Tyres Group match against Spurs on Wednesday night at the north Londoners’ Cheshunt stadium.

Kirby is expected to be there but will be consigned to watching the game from the stand.

“She is fine,” said Chelsea boss Emma Hayes.

“She will be back for the new year. We are just taking time. We are just trying to improve her strength in and around her hamstring, and to be honest, for us to make sure she is going to good for club and country.”

With a double day of destiny coming up where Chelsea face French outfit Paris St Germain in a home and away Champions League quarter-final fixture in March, Hayes will want her top striker at full fitness.

With a nod to Kirby’s England ambitions in the summer when England take on Scotland, Argentina and Japan in the World Cups’ group of death, in France, Hayes said: “It’s a big year for her next year..”

But just five points adrift of Arsenal and Manchester City in the WSL 1, Hayes wants Kirby to be fit and recharged when they resume league action at home to Everton on January 6.

Hayes believes that they could do without Kirby, and this has proved true as the Blues have won all four games since the Reading-born forward last played.

Hayes said: “We felt we have the depth [in the squad] that we could take this time now, and we are doing that. She will be available to play the first game of the new year.”

“Yeah, if needed, she could have played but I trust my squad, Erin Cuthbert, Beth England - all players that have enough quality. There is enough quality across the team. Of course, Fran is a world-class player but we have enough strength in depth to cope.”

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