EXCLUSIVEBY PAUL LAGAN
Hannah Blundell is back and she knows it’s going to be tough regaining her place in the side but she’s up for the challenge.
The right- back, 25, had just returned from a long-term lay-off when she injured her quad muscle in the opening game of the WSL1 season – a 1-0 win against Spurs at Stamford Bridge.
That resulted in a second period on the sidelines from which she made her long-awaited return as a substitute in the 6-0 rout of Birmingham City on Sunday.
She said: “It was so good to be back on the pitch. I have worked so hard behind the scenes, and I’m now slowly working my way back into the team.
“I tore my quads in the first game against Tottenham. I was told that would be four to six weeks out, then a slow build back to fitness.
“The club didn’t want to get me back too early, so it was a case of working hard on my strength and finally, now I’m over that, I’m back.
“Crossing over the white line today felt like a long time coming. You don’t want to be in the physio’s room, you want
to be playing, and there was no better feeling than getting the win.”
Chelsea are top of the WSL1, a point ahead of Manchester City and Arsenal, and Blundell knows it’s tough changing a winning team.
“It makes it harder to get into the team as we are playing so well and are top of the league,” she said.
“But you want that as a squad, we want to be top, we don’t want it to be easy to get into the team.
“We have great professional players, and that makes it harder for me to get in.
“For myself, when I’m in contention for a position, it makes me work harder and become a better player.
“That will push me and my standards so we have a healthy competition – it makes us all work harder.”
Blundell knows she will have to oust Norway skipper Maren Mjelde if she is to return to the right-back spot , although she has played many times as a left-back.
“Maren is playing well at the moment, so she has the place,” said the defender.
“But I know that I have to work hard on the training pitch. And when my chance comes, I’ve got to take it.
“We are on a good run at the moment, and take each game as it comes.
“We must keep standards high, not get complacent.”
With no Champions League matches to clog the fixture list, it could be seen as an advantage to the Blues in their title challenge, but Blundell doesnt think so.
She said: “Arsenal are still there, and they are in the Champions League. They have a big enough squad to rotate players if needed.
“So we know it will be a push until the end, we have to concentrate on ourselves.
“We need to get our game plan right against Everton at the weekend and focus on ourselves and make sure we get the three points.”
While Blundell was on the sidelines she still attended games and loved to hear the songs the vocal supporters sang – for her and the team.
“They have just been fantastic, to be fair the last three years,” she said.
“They have been growing in numbers, getting louder.
“It does spur you on and obviously in big games it makes a difference.
It’s great to speak to them after the game and thank them. They travel all over to watch us – even abroad, we can’t thank them enough.”
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