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Emma Hayes described Chelsea captain Magda Eriksson as ‘one of the main reasons we’ve been a winning team for years’ and praised her influence on her return after three months to help Chelsea win a third title consecutive champion and the FA on Sunday. Cup final against Manchester City.

Eriksson suffered an ankle injury in Chelsea’s 4-0 Champions League loss to Wolfsburg in December, which sidelined her for much of the season. “We knew it was an injury that was going to take a bit of time,” explained Hayes. “Naturally, the team was going to lose something. To Aniek [Nouwen] we have a player who doesn’t have the experience but has entered a space that has helped develop the team in different ways. However, Magda is our captain for a reason.

When Eriksson was fit again in March, Hayes was reluctant to put her straight back into a team on a winning streak, despite her quality. “I really appreciate and respect Magda, but we had conversations about patience and I knew this time would come. None of us thought it would be when we went down to 10 players at Tottenham.

“Having Magda’s leadership back on the pitch, and I don’t want to take anything away from Millie [Bright] because Millie has been amazing, but having them both together gives us another dimension to deal with really tough times. Especially when the stress level increases.

Being absent was “a challenge”, says Eriksson. “It was my first long injury in a very long time. It was not nice to be out for three months and not be in the team.

“But watching the team play and watching the players grow during that time, every player has stepped up, which made me really proud. I was sad not to be a part of it, but it made me made me very proud to see how many young girls in our team have mobilized and really taken on this responsibility.

Coming back to the Chelsea side was a test. “You want to be back where you left off, but you have to respect that your body suffered an injury and you’ve been out for three months. I have very high standards so I had to try to to be nice to myself.

Captaining from the touchline was a different role for the Swedish centre-back. “It’s important to know when to take a step back and when to let the team fend for themselves with their new roles,” she says.

Eriksson aims for revenge in Chelsea’s final showdown with Manchester City |  sport
Magda Eriksson (right) looks as confident as she has since returning from injury. Photo: David Price/Arsenal FC/Getty Images

“Millie had the armband and she did wonders and the team performed very well. So I tried to focus mainly on my injury, fixing myself first, because it’s important, you have to sometimes focus on yourself. But I was always there if anyone needed to chat or if anyone wanted to talk to someone who maybe wasn’t very involved in the game.”

Eriksson’s absence was keenly felt by Chelsea in their 3-1 loss in the Continental League Cup final to FA Cup final opponents Manchester City. “They’re back now, they’ve come back to themselves,” said Eriksson, who is in contact with Chelsea men’s captain César Azpilicueta and said the two Chelsea teams will be cheering each other on. mutually.

Eriksson aims for revenge in Chelsea’s final showdown with Manchester City |  sport
Artwork: guardian design

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“Their record has recently proven that they look incredibly strong. They were strong against us too in the Conti Cup final, we want revenge for that game. We know we can do better than that.”

The FA Cup final in 2018 was Eriksson’s “first real big game for Chelsea” and the competition matters a lot. “It’s the game I’ll always remember, it’s one of the coolest I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how many there were in the stands, but there were a lot of people and at the I was not used to playing in front of so many people back then and we are expecting even bigger crowds on Sunday. The fans are incredible and the history of the Cup is great. There are so many things that make you want to win.

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