15/04/2024

Canberra United coach Vicki Linton says her side is well rested after their game was cancelled last week. (Photo: Canberra United FC)

Canberra United head coach Vicki Linton says her side has made the most of its forced week off after a slow start to the season.

Canberra United coach Vicki Linton is looking on the bright side after her team missed a week of football.

United was scheduled to play Perth Glory last weekend, but the Round 3 clash was called off due to WA’s border restrictions.

It was to be a second away trip in succession for the winless Canberra. Linton says that the enforced break has positives for her squad.

“It has [been good],” she told media on Monday. 

“Sometimes it’s not, because it’s great to have the game to focus on, but I think where we were at it was just nice to have some time to build and spend more time together.”

Canberra has started with season with two close losses. It took a spectacular individual effort from Holly McNamara for Melbourne City to steal the three points in Round 1.

The away trip to Adelaide saw a much-improved performance and United’s first goal of the season, through none other than superstar striker Michelle Heyman. But a moment of magic from Nanako Sasaki to set up Emily Condon condemned them to the wrong end of the table.

Although it was disappointing that they had no match to play, avoiding another long away trip has been a silver lining.

“Away trips these day even with all the protocols aren’t easy,” Linton said.

“It’s much nicer being at home. It allowed us to get over that and the travel and build into this game.”

Canberra has added some new faces to the squad for this season. Chelsee Washington and Ally Haran have arrived from Orlando Pride in the NWSL, while locals Ashleigh Sykes and Karly Roestbakken have also returned.

Linton says that it is taking some time for the team to click. The absence of a match last weekend presented her with an opportunity to develop more on field cohesion.

With some players such as Roestbakken or Allira Toby entering the season with fitness concerns, the extra rest has been beneficial.

“I think that’s what this week was good for, a little bit more time with everyone,” Linton said.

“It took a long time for everyone to get here and get on the field so it’s probably taken us an extra couple of weeks to actually start to gel and find those combinations.

“I’m hoping that we get to start seeing that, and it starts on Thursday night.”

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It is a situation not unique to Canberra. Most clubs have gone through significant squad changes.

Thursday’s opponent, Brisbane Roar have also shown quality but look like a team still finding their collective rhythm.

COVID lockdowns put a premature end to state leagues in NSW and Victoria, Linton pointing to those as a factor in the slow start by some teams.

“With COVID and the impact on the NPLs, a lot of people haven’t played a lot of football,” she said.

“We have to be mindful of that and I think we actually see that across the league, and I think a lot of teams are just warming into the season now.”

Canberra’s opponent on Thursday night is also in search of its first win and has also undergone significant changes to their line up.

Brisbane lost its opening two games against Perth Glory in the dying minutes, and went down to Melbourne Victory 3-2 in an encouraging performance.

Linton’s team is well rested and prepared, but she is not taking Brisbane lightly.

“They’re a very proud team,” Linton said of the Roar.

“Like us they’ll be fighting for a win. They’ve had some tough times as well, so we’re looking for them to come down here and battle.”

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