Hayes wants schedule rethink as Chelsea Ladies prepare for historic clash

Chelsea Ladies boss Emma Hayes called for the FA Women’s Continental Tyres Cup’s place in the domestic schedule to be reconsidered ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg clash against Montpellier.

As her team continues to fight on three fronts, the manager struggled to see the benefit of the cup and thinks the Women’s Super League and Champions League should be prioritised.

Chelsea join Manchester City in a bid for European history and Hayes revealed both managers are feeling the strain of the congested fixture list.

The Blues played Montpellier last Wednesday, then Reading in the league on Sunday, before the Champions League return leg this week followed by a top-of-the-table clash against Arsenal and an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Sunday April 15.

Hayes said: “I spoke to Nick Cushing and it is a source of frustration for both of us.

“Fast forward to next year and the schedule is identical.

“We need to think of the players, they’re going to be in the same position.

“I think we need to revisit what the Continental Tyres Cup is for.”

The Blues have had just two days’ rest since the 2-2 draw with Reading on the weekend and face Arsenal on Sunday.

Hayes’ frustration comes after some of her players have been forced to play as many as 14 games in 58 days.

She said: “A two-day rest period means the team are 38% less likely to win.

“I want to put on record that it’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.”

Her overwhelming fear is the prospect of serious injuries to key players with international and club commitments.

Both Chelsea’s Millie Bright and City’s Steph Houghton have suffered from hectic seasons, with Lionesses skipper Houghton missing out on the SheBelieves Cup.

Hayes added: “For England to win they have to have their best players available and possibly would’ve won the SheBelieves Cup if they had had Houghton.”

Now on the brink of Chelsea Ladies’ most successful Champions League campaign to date, the 41-year-old realises it’s been a long time coming.

“It is not a competition to win quickly. It’s the sort of thing that takes five or six years,” she continued.

“I think it’s fair to say that when a Man City get a Lyon they’re confident going into that game, just as we are against a Wolfsburg.

“You can only get that through time, experience, a little bit of patience and lots of losing.”

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