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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan

Hayes: Lauren James could get some minutes against Villa in FA Cup

Emma Hayes will ring the changes for tomorrow’s Women’s FA Cup match at Aston Villa as Chelsea continue to struggle with injuries, Covid, and players away on international duty – so much so that the head coach has only 15 players to choose from.

Beth England, who came off the bench to score the vital opener in the 2-0 league victory against West Ham on Wednesday, is expected to start at the Banks’s Stadium in the early kick-off.

A frustrated England has played a bit-part this season and Hayes hinted that her attitude and training weren’t sufficient to warrant a starting place. But now they are.

With Sam Kerr away with Australia in the Asian Cup, striker England has languished on the bench with Hayes preferring the forward partnership of Fran Kirby and Pernille Harder.

But goals have been a struggle to get in recent matches, making England’s poacher’s strike against the Hammers at Kingsmeadow crucial.

Hayes said: “She’s trained well the last few days. It’s important for Beth to build upon that. The team needs that.

“I’ve said this to Beth. This is an important time. We need you to step forward. You have to perform well every game, to compete, to get in the team. And I think she is in a good headspace with that.

“At a club like Chelsea we have so many good forwards, it’s difficult to get as many starts as you want. But if you are coming from the bench, make sure that you are the very best. I say that to them all. And that’s why she was in against West Ham.

“She impacted the game immediately. She looked like her old self. Let’s hope she can build upon it.”

Hayes admitted that those who were on the bench in midweek will start the cup match.

She said: “There will be minimal changes. I’ve still only got the same players available.

“There are no players coming back, so Alsu Abdullina will get a runout, Drew Spence too. Lauren James won’t start but may get some minutes near the end of the game. Zecira Musovic will replace Ann-Katrin Berger.”


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