Now that competition’s hotting up at Chelsea – especially in the role of striker – with the arrival of top-rated Aussie forward Sam Kerr, pictured, how will manager Emma Hayes cope with the battle for starting places? Hayes finds the question amusing, because the alternative (scratching around for someone to fill the No9 role) is
Now that competition’s hotting up at Chelsea – especially in the role of striker – with the arrival of top-rated Aussie forward Sam Kerr, pictured, how will manager Emma Hayes cope with the battle for starting places?
Hayes finds the question amusing, because the alternative (scratching around for someone to fill the No9 role) is so much worse.
“It’s their problem, and it’s my privilege,” said Hayes. “So, lucky me; I’ve got a glut of beautiful people to pick from.”
With games coming thick and fast (the Conti Cup and Women’s FA Cup are now adding to the fixture burden), Hayes will need the depth of squad that she enjoys. For not only can she pick from Sam Kerr, Beth England, Erin Cuthbert, Guro Reiten and Fran Kirby, but there is also youth prospect Emily Murphy waiting in the wings, Ramona Bachmann recovering from flu, and veteran Drew Spence still capable of offering a ferocious presence up front… not to mention the forgotten woman of the Blues squad, flying Finn Adelina Engman, who currently can’t get a look-in.
Then there’s another new signing, Jamie-Lee Napier, a 19-year-old winger from Hibs, whose arrival has been eclipsed by Kerr’s appearance. Napier, the reigning Scottish Women’s Premier League 1 player of the year, came on as a sub for the final five minutes of the Reading match… in place of right back Maren Mjelde.
But instead of taking up a position in the back line, Napier joined England up front to capitalise on the fact that 10-player Reading were tiring. She proved that she is more than capable of contributing to the Blues’ firepower up front as England spent the dying minutes backed by Napier on one wing and Reiten on the other.
Hayes insists that she didn’t have to persuade Kerr to come to Chelsea. “I didn’t have to say anything; I shared what our club is about, I got to know her. She’s a ‘doll’, as she would say! She’s humble, hard-working, thoughtful, honest and is an unbelievable team player who cares what the team think of her, and who will work and do her job for the team at any point.”
The manager said that she’d decided to start Kerr “two years ago”, adding: “She’s got frightening pace, that’s for sure! She worked the squad hard in the 10 days since the Christmas break, but has no plans to add further to her squad. “I think I’ve maxed out on the credit card,” she said.
These are, says Hayes, “happy days”.
Next up, Bristol City visit Kingsmeadow on Sunday at 2pm.