Australia’s losses to Germany and The Netherlands came with an asterisk. Aside from the year-long gap between camps, the side was missing some vital players.
As they prepare to face Sweden and Denmark, selectors will be buoyed by the return to form and fitness of key Matildas.
Vice-captain Steph Catley has been given the time and facilities at Arsenal to recover unhurried from hamstring surgery. She returned in the final week of the WSL showing all the speed and robust defending that has defined her career.
The impressive performance of Beatie Goad at left-back this season gives head coach Tony Gustavsson the option of using Catley to add pace at center back but she is also a creative force going forward.
Compared to the last hitouts this is a good problem to have.
COVID robbed football fans of a chance to see Ellie Carpenter go head to head with Barcelona’s star Lieke Martens. Carpenter has not represented Australia since signing for Lyon but has been a fixture in the side and star performer.
Carpenter is one of Australia’s best assets in defense and attack. If she plays her presence can change the momentum of a match.
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The Matildas’ midfield will likely welcome back Chloe Logazro and Tameka Yallop. Both players add grit and class to the side, they score goals, tackle, they run tirelessly.
Yallop’s move to West Ham and Logarzo’s arrival at Kansas City have made both players available again. They can reinforce an area of the pitch that struggled against The Netherlands.
PSV Eindhoven’s Aussie duo Kyah Simon and Amy Harrison would be inclusions welcomed by fans. Covid restrictions and injuries left both unavailable to Gustavsson in his first games but both have since returned to action.
Harrison has been a regular for the Dutch side. Although Simon has only recently returned to full training, if she’s fit she should play.
Australia struggled to create many chances in the previous matches. Simon has an ability to score from long range as well as in the 18-yard box. She adds firepower and creativity to the side while Harrison can bring composure to central midfield.
Elise Kellond Knight has also resumed full training following a serious knee injury. She has long been a vital cog in the team, winning World Cup All-Star selection in defense and midfield.
It might still be too soon to risk one of Australia’s most irreplaceable players. But her return to the pitch for Hammerby is reason to be optimistic.
Tony Gustavsson has admirably committed the team to playing difficult and challenging opposition.
He has spurned the idea of banking easy wins to build confidence and public favor. Instead, he has opted for the hard tests to find answers to future problems.
The band is getting back together, and there’s still time for rehearsals before the main event.
Australia play Denmark on June 11 and Sweden on the 16th.