Emma Hayes has revealed that Lauren James could make the Chelsea bench for Wednesday evening's WSL clash with West Ham due to a lack of numbers in the Blues squad, although she is unlikely to feature as she continues her return to full fitness.
The highly-rated 20-year-old joined Chelsea from Manchester United in the summer, but had to wait until November to make her debut following a number of recurring injury problems.
Despite boasting one of the strongest squads in the WSL, Hayes' side currently find themselves a little thin on the ground due to Covid-19, injuries and the Asia Cup, and were only able to name six substitutes (including two goalkeepers) for Sunday's draw at Brighton.
The Blues boss has admitted that James could be involved in the matchday squad against West Ham, but purely to make up the numbers, with the young forward not yet ready for first-team action.
"Lauren James has had one session with us today, she may join the bench tomorrow but she’s not in a position to start let alone play 10 or 15 minutes but we’re so thin," Hayes said during her pre-match press conference.
"I’m probably risking a little bit in that situation, but the group really needed an extra number. Hopefully she can get a little bit closer in the coming weeks to rejoin the group on a more full-time basis."
At the beginning of November, the striker stated that it had been a selection of 'reoccurring' injuries that had delayed her hotly-anticipated Blues debut.
"I’ve had a few injuries in the past year, some reoccurring ones. Reoccurring ones are more annoying than a new injury," James told the Chelsea official website.
"I’ve been trying to find my feet again so I can stay on the pitch. My main goal is to stay fit and stay on the pitch. I’ve been working on my injuries wherever I had them, to make those areas stronger so I can prevent that happening again.
"Previously I haven’t taken as much time to get my body right. Coming in and having a good team around me to help get my body right and conditioned to be able to cope with what’s needed will help in the long run."
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