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  • By Paul Lagan

Hayes: I’ll push England and Olympic boss Phil Neville to play every English player who plays for Ch

Emma Hayes Photo by Paul Lagan

Emma Hayes was delighted her side found a way of countering a dour Birmingham and eventually overcome the visitors 2-0 that keeps their WSL1 title challenge on track.

Goals from Guro Reiten and a class effort from Beth England keeps the Blues a point behind leaders Manchester City, but the west Londoners have a game in had - they meet each other in two weeks’ time.

“If we all think every game is going to be a crescendo moment, then they are mistaken,”said Hayes

“It’s about winning and we did that.”

She fully expected the spoiling tactics, the tough defending and the impressive energy of her opponents that kept her side at bay for 44 minutes of the first half.

They played the way they did because “They are chasing points to stay up,” she said.

”We expected that they would have improved their defensive play, they make it difficult for top teams and their coach Marta Trjedor had some interesting ideas - she set her team up very well in the first 45 minutes, but we countered it in the second half.”

It was the third time a row Hayes has started the same 11 players, but it’s a case of circumstances apparently.

She said: “I had no Sam Kerr to Ji to pick from - (they were away on international duty) If I have them at the weekend, then I have to think about that.

“But that was our strongest team.

“Kerr is due back Saturday morning - she is not in any condition to play on Sunday, but I didn’t say she wouldn’t play.

I didn’t use Ji against Birmingham, but if I needed her, I would have used her.“

One player who back is defender Maria Thorisdottir following an injury - Hayes was so happy for her.

“She had really started to blossom and flourish and then that injury came,” said the manager.

”She is such a popular member of our dressing room. And everyone was willing her on.

“But all players are hungry, I can say that. They have three more points. We can win different ways which is a sign of a great team.”

Striker Erin Cuthbert left the Kingsmeadow pitch in agony have crashed into the metal advertising board - Hayes ain’t worried.

She said: “I just saw Erin, she’s fine. She hurt herself on the advertising board. It’s likely to be bruising nothing else.”

Next month England boss takes his side to Orlando, Florida to try and retain the SheBelieves Cup - the Lionesses are the current title holders.

There is a natural clamour for Beth England to get a starting roll following a high-quality season for the Blues.

Hayes said she will do her bit.

“I push Phil Neville to put every Chelsea player into his team,”she said.

”As far as I’m concerned there are not enough of them in the England side. I will remind him that we are unbeaten and all my players deserve to start.

“Beth the best English number 9 in the country and I have the other best one in the country too in Sam Kerr.”

Hayes has a warning about the condition that some players will be in, on their return from international duty.

“It’s challenging when you get them back on a Thursday and you have to play them on a Sunday,” she said.

“I always talk about player welfare, having to fly long-haul - for everyone of those players it’s really risky, but I want them to play for England in Euro and Olympics in the summer, so it’s an opportunity for Neville to be with them.”

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