Emma Hayes: Looking forward to defending our title

Chelsea have had a busy week having played three games in short succession, but Hayes insisted her squad will be fully prepared come Sunday’s showpiece event

‘Playing with 10 players last week really took it out of us and that’s understandable. I do think we will recover for the weekend.

‘That 10-player game last week, plus West Ham, plus the away game played a huge part of the type of performance we delivered. I always felt that away game [against Atletico] was going to be extremely tough and it turned out to be.

‘This group know how to do it though, I know that everybody will be working on their recovery strategies and we’ll be ready to go come Sunday afternoon and how could you not be, it’s a final.

‘An extra recovery day is going to help us and we’re just really looking forward to defending our title.’

The Chelsea manager paid tribute to forward Fran Kirby who has continued to push boundaries throughout difficult periods of her life and career

‘I never had any doubts but it wasn’t important anyway. What was important was her life and what was important that she knew that I stood completely beside her.

‘She had my trust and confidence and I value that. I value that relationship and everybody knows I’m extremely protective of Fran.

‘When I watched her on Wednesday, I watched a woman that has grown into the person she has because of the setbacks she’s experienced but the work she’s done on herself is remarkable.

‘I’d urge any footballer to have a look at what Fran’s been through and look at the reminders of how to appreciate what you have and how to appreciate the most important things. I told her in a text I’m so, so proud of her.’

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