Beard: We've built a team that can challenge sides like Chelsea



West Ham United women's head coach Matt Beard expects Chelsea to offer his team a tough test this Sunday but fully believes his side has the capability to beat the Blues. 

The Irons return to Continental League Cup action with a first group game of the campaign this weekend, away to a Chelsea team that have picked up four points from their opening two Barclays FA Women's Super League matches. 

West Ham sit in Group D, alongside the Blues, as well as Tottenham Hotspur, Reading, Lewes and Crystal Palace, and Beard is expecting a real challenge in progressing to the quarter-finals of the competition. 

The head coach knows a strong performance at Kingsmeadow this weekend will be a huge stepping stone to achieving that goal. 

Chelsea are very good on the ball and they are a world class side. That being said, we feel we've built a team that can beat these sides and that's exactly what we are looking for on Sunday.

Matt Beard

"It's a tough group and we want to progress through it, like we did last year," Beard told "Chelsea have had a tough start themselves. They had a lot of chances against Brighton but were lucky to get something out of the game. We're expecting a reaction from them, but we need to do our job. 

"We played them pre-season and they were excellent against us. It was a real learning curve for our team. I've watched both of their games. They're very good on the ball and they are a world class side, so it's going to be a tough afternoon for us. 

"That being said, we feel we've built a team that can beat these sides and that's exactly what we are looking for on Sunday."

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A huge plus for Beard is almost having a fully fit squad to choose from, with Esmee de Graaf and Leanne Kiernan nearing their respective returns for West Ham. 

The head coach has confirmed he will make changes to his side for Sunday's cup match as he looks to give other players the opportunity to force their way into the starting XI on a regular basis.




He continued: "Everyone is fully fit. Esmee is back in full training now so we're anticipating just a couple more weeks for her to be available. Leanne Kiernan has got through two Academy games and built up some minutes, so we're really close to having a full squad to pick from. 

"We are going to make some changes for this game, to give some players the chance to get minutes. Players like Alisha Lehmann and Tessel Middag will start, which will give us an opportuntiy to look at them and them a chance to get back into the team."

A 1-0 win over Birmingham City last Sunday was preceded by a undeserved loss away to reigning champions Arsenal, and Beard can find a lot of positives from both fixtures. 

The head coach is hoping to see more from his team against Chelsea this weekend.

Beard added: "If we look at the Arsenal game, we were a little tentative. The way we started was too respectful. We had some harsh words at half-time and the second half was fantastic. We proved we can live with the best in this divsion. 

"Birmingham wasn't the performance we had hoped for, but we got the result we needed and deserved. We can take positives from both. We won the Birmingham game ugly and got the clean-sheet, and that's a massive plus going into Sunday."