As their time working together draws to a close, Emma Hayes in the past month has been able to welcome her captain Millie Bright back onto the pitch.

Our manager for the past 12 years and our longest-serving player are no strangers to fighting for a league title right to the end of the season.

They are set to do so again with tonight’s match at Tottenham followed quickly by a visit to Manchester United on Saturday. A win today will put the Blues at the top of the table on goal difference ahead of the deciding day.

Bright, who joined Chelsea in 2014, has been limited to 10 appearances this season having suffered a knee injury in November. However, she was able to return during the Champions League game against Barcelona and has started the past two fixtures. The 30-year-old has also returned to the England squad.

‘It has been brilliant to have Millie back,’ smiles Hayes as she begins to explain why.

‘It's the leadership, it's orchestrating, it’s organising, and it’s keeping people in check. There is no denying Millie still has work to do to be at her best but for giving confidence to others or holding people accountable – all that stuff - you can't underestimate the value and importance of that to Chelsea in my tenure. So I'm delighted she's back for the run-in.’

Hayes acknowledges that at times during the months when Bright was out, in the manager’s press conferences, she gave estimates of when the club captain would return that did not play out.

‘That’s not because we play games with the media because this is the nature of what happens coming back from rehab,’ Hayes explains. ‘Millie's was certainly not a straightforward so I'm happy for her that she’s back.

‘I will often say to the players that you have to put your career first and Millie was putting her body in a situation where she had to look after it.

‘Careers are short, so I advised her to really prioritise the longer term instead of just constantly playing in pain. That’s been tough for her. It's been a long time out and it hasn't been smooth run-in.

‘She has to build progressively and it's a testament to her character. She's always been the leader in our dressing room and she’s given everything for Chelsea and she's given everything to me in my time here.

'I am so grateful for her and the time we have spent together.’