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  • By Paul Lagan at Hayes Lane

Hayes wants to win the Continental Tyres Cup, just not on a Sunday

Emma Hayes Photo by Paul Lagan

Emma Hayes likes the Continental Tyres Cup, she wants to win it, but just not on a Sunday.

Hayes watched her charges overcome stubborn Crystal Palace 3-0 on Sunday at Hayes Lane to keep their 100 per cent record in their regional group but she would much have preferred to have been playing a WSL1 match - she believes that Sundays are league days.

She said: “We are here to win the Conti Cup - it’s here, I can’t change that.

“Would I prefer bigger games programmes in the league - yes.

Put the Conti Cup into midweek, like you do with the men if you want it to exist.

“Don’t make Sunday games, Conti games. It should be a league game.

“This is how we build our sport, league, league league on a Sunday.

“Put the Conti Cup in midweek and we can play a lot more of our younger players.”

It’s a compelling argument, but one that finds less favour where some clubs are not full-time and have players who need to work during the week.

To increase the number of WSL1 matches to fill the fixture calendar, Hayes said: “As for the league, we should play each other three times.

“I think you have to keep building, so maybe consider taking (promote) another two teams next year not one - there are good sides in the Championship.

“Everyone knows my feeling on the Conti Cup - even the FA, the whole world. I just really believe in selling the product, and the league is the product.

“We have to work towards a future where we can keep all parties happy.”

Keeping her squad happy is a task that Hayes and her management team are fully aware of, and the Conti Cup is the ideal competition to give fringe players playing time and those in need of more match minutes to get to peak fitness.

“I made it clear last week we won’t compete for anything without the whole,” she said.

A clear indicator that she has a strategy of keeping fringe players on board. It’s straightforward in it’s simplicity and it’s consistent. Everyone is valued, everyone needs to value each other and everyone knows why they are in the side or not.

“Different weeks we require different players to do different roles,” she said.

“Sunday was an opportunity for players, so superb in the background but disappointed not to get into the team on a regular basis, but wait patiently.

“I’m happy for those players who get a game, as it’s always disappointing to leave them out of the side.

“It’s not easy - everyone seems to think that’s an easy process - there’s disappointments every week. But we work hard to give individual feedback, and individual development programmes, to makes sure we support the players in their progression. And get everyone to understand it’s about a whole season, not a single game, not a single tournament, it’s all of them.”

To emphasise the point she cited the loss for Manchester City in midweek of Aoife Mannion with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, which will keep her out of the game for months.

She said: “Anything can happen- you see that with Manchester City losing Mannion this week. We lost Anita Asante early against Palace - you have got to be ready.

That’s what I educate the players to be - ready.”

Missing from the squad on Sunday was Fran Kirby, Hayes confirmed that she was in bed with the flu.

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