Emma Hayes criticises international schedule following Pernille Harder injury

Harder has been ruled out for a significant period of time with injury
Harder has been ruled out for a significant period of time with injury / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/GettyImages

Emma Hayes has labelled the congested domestic and international schedule as 'outrageous', after Pernille Harder was sidelined with an injury sustained while away with her national team.

Harder has been ruled out for a 'significant period' of time after undergoing surgery on a hamstring injury which forced her off in the first half of Denmark's friendly against Switzerland in November.

The Chelsea boss was unable to give a time frame for the forward's return, but stressed the long-term nature of the problem.

"It's a huge blow for her and the team, she was having a fantastic impact and had really settled into the side this year," said Hayes. "No medical staff member will ever put a timeline on that type of surgery because it all depends how she responds once it settles down. But I can say I can't see her playing any time soon.

"For us we just need to support her in the best way we can and we do have the depth to cope with that, not that you can replace Pernille Harder. She's an outstanding player and person and I know the whole team is rallying round her."

Harder's injury was sustained during the November international break - the third international break in the space of three months .

Certain players were also given as little as two weeks off ahead of the 2022/23 season following Euro 2022 due to Champions League qualifiers being scheduled for August.

Hayes explained that one of the major problems is the fact that international breaks are frequent but short, and the travel demands that this subsequently puts on players.

"I've made it clear player welfare needs looking at for the players," the Chelsea boss added. "Erin Cuthbert went away with Scotland, played a game on Saturday, and then they played her again less than 48 hours later on a Monday. I think it's outrageous that players are put in those positions.

"Yes, there has to be an international calendar and yes, I know there's going to be changes so they can perhaps be with international [teams] for longer periods and then with their club for longer periods because it's really the travel and the in between that causes a lot of the problems I would say.

"For someone like Pernille, she always wants to do everything. And it's not the fault of anybody sometimes with these injuries. They come for many different reasons. But I certainly feel players playing in World Cups, European Championships, being given two weeks rest in between seasons is unacceptable for them. Forget clubs and countries, we need to start putting players first.

"It's the freshness. Some injuries come as a result of a lack of freshness, and then the accumulation of things and some of that might come with travel. For me it's the travel that's the big problem. A player's habits and how they recover from games varies and that can be so disruptive.

"It's killing the players. Across the board, look at the injuries in the women's game."