Chelsea manager Emma Hayes hopes Bethany England has kick-started a return to form after scoring a brace in Sunday’s 4-0 win over Everton.
Ji So-yun netted Chelsea’s only goal of the first half in a game that remained relatively even for the first 70 minutes.
Last season’s PFA Player of the Year England then quashed Everton hopes of drawing level with a quickfire double, scoring in the 73rd and 75th minutes, before Denmark international Pernille Harder added a magnificent fourth goal at the death.
Hayes welcomed England’s recovery after an Achilles injury caused a slow start to the campaign, saying: “I don’t think she was at the level we’ve seen her at previously in the first half of the season, she had a long Achilles rehab and it takes time to get back.”
Hayes did not indicate whether Sunday’s goals have secured England’s place in the starting line-up, however.
“I was happy with her today, but my job is to win games not to make my players happy,” she added. “It’s up to Beth to make sure it is the start of another run of fantastic games.”
Hayes has a deep squad, with world-class players like Sam Kerr coming on from the bench and creating some difficult selection decisions.
The manager indicated that is something she is always monitoring, saying: “Coaching world-class talent means that what you do every day always matters, and people talk about you being as good as your last game… well you’re as good as your next game.”
Everton manager Willie Kirk said his team were not held back as a result of missing players – including Valerie Gauvin and Lucy Graham – through injury, claiming England’s two goals were the root of his team’s downfall in an otherwise strong performance.
He said: “The performance was really good in the vast majority of the game… we conceded two goals and then lost our defensive composure for 10 minutes and that was what put us behind.
“I don’t think that this had too much of a bearing on the game, obviously missing a goalscorer and the captain, but I don’t think it affected the performance too much.
“No one is wanting injuries, but I think we have more depth than we had last year.”