HOPE POWELL backed Emma Hayes’ response to AFC Wimbledon rumours after the Chelsea manager shut down speculation connecting her with the Dons.

And the Brighton chief desires her players to provide the Blues a run for their money in their clash with the champs.

Powell, 54, was speaking ahead of Albion’s trip to the league leaders’ turf with her team looking to get better from 4 losses in their last 6 games.

And the Seagulls boss said reports of Hayes being eyed as a prospective Dons supervisor restored memories of a similar circumstance she faced in 2009 during her England period.

The previous Lionesses head coach was thought to remain in the frame for the gaffer’s job at Grimsby Town following Mike Newell’s exit from the League Two clothing.

Powell said: “I’m really pleased with Emma’s response. Years back, I was in exactly the same position.

” There was this whole thing around Grimsby and me going to be the supervisor of Grimsby as if I was going to quit the England job.

” No disrespect to Grimsby, but why would I do that?

” I believe the assumption is regardless of the level of guys’s football, the presumption is it’s better than the level of ladies’s football, which is outright rubbish.

” She (Emma) is perhaps with among the finest clubs worldwide, let alone our league.

” She is really, very successful, still has a hunger to do well there and is dealing with a few of the greatest players in the world.”

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Brighton, who signed Finland full-back Emma Koivisto, hope to put distance between themselves and the drop zone.

And Seagulls centre-back Victoria Williams states the group have actually had frank conversations following their loss to Bristol City.

Williams, 30, stated: “We have a terrific group spirit and I believe we just let ourselves down as individuals.

” When we consider our identity we’re tough to break down and teams understand that and it simply seemed to come unstuck last Saturday.

” The players had a meeting and a reset to advise ourselves that while we have had a number of bad results, we have not end up being a bad group overnight.”

Powell included: “If everyone has desire, cravings, effort and application, we’ll provide ourselves a possibility against Chelsea.

” We lost 1-0 last time however I thought we played well and we handled to get a point from them historically.”

Chelsea, level on points with Guy United, are seeking to extend their record-breaking league run to 34 games unbeaten.

And the champs, who play Arsenal after Albion have sealed a shorts sponsorship offer with investment bank N +1 Vocalist.