Chelsea defender Gilly Flaherty believes Emma Hayes’ smart recruitment means every player is being pushed and challenged for a place in her side. 

With the new season kicking off this weekend, the 26-year-old defender is part of one of the most talented squads, with competition for every position on the field. 

Having tasted huge success during her career both with Chelsea and former club Arsenal, Flaherty is a winner at heart, so after losing out on all three domestic competitions in 2016, topping the recent Spring Series was a welcome boost. 

“We were disappointed with last year, so we really targeted the Spring Series as something we wanted to win. 

“It gave us a lot of confidence to finish top because we go into every competition to win it – so hopefully we can carry that on into the new season.” 

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Flaherty has spent much of her time in the centre of defence playing alongside Ireland international Niamh Fahey, who she also partnered at the back at Arsenal. Fahey has since moved to France to play for Bordeaux, but Head Coach Emma Hayes acted quickly to replace her, bringing in Norway international Maria Thorisdottir. 

Joining Flaherty in the backline will be Sweden international Magdalena Eriksson, who impressed during the recent EUROs, adding competition to a backline that has been fairly solid under the leadership of Hayes. 

The quality of the additions is without questions, but the England defender outlined that as good as the recruitments are, it’s their character that is equally as important. 

“I’ve been really impressed with the new signings and what they have added to the squad. 

“The great thing Emma does, is she brings in the right characters that fit our team. There are no big-time-Charlie’s here, and that is why we have such a close squad.” 

The addition of the two international defenders compliments the more attack minded players Emma Hayes brought in ahead of the Spring Series. Swiss international Ramona Bachmann and US international Crystal Dunn hit the ground running almost immediately, while the versatile Maren Mjelde, who played in both defence and midfield during the spring competition, was arguably Hayes’ most important addition. 

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While Arsenal has overhauled its squad and Manchester City deal with a couple of comings and goings, Chelsea look in a strong position to repeat their double winning season of 2015. 

Flaherty outlined that the competition for places would be a benefit to all the players as they look to right the wrongs of 2016. 

“We want to be the best that we can be and when you see the fact we have two or three players fighting for every position, that really pushes you and can really spur you on. 

“I’ve needed that competition because I didn’t have my best year last year, but now I just can’t wait to get going 

“The reality is everyone wants to be the best team. Players come and players go at every club, which can make the league quite unpredictable. But I think this could be one of the best seasons yet, and I am excited to get going.”