The Matildas have announced their provisional 29-player squad for next month’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, with Sam Kerr captaining a bumper side brimming with talent.
Crucial veterans Chloe Logarzo, Alanna Kennedy, Tameka Yallop and Kyah Simon have, excitingly for Australia, been named despite fitness concerns, though sadly for Elise Kellond-Knight there will be no miraculous return after a ruptured achilles cruelled her World Cup chances.
Rising stars Amy Sayer, Remy Siemsen and Clare Hunt will relish the opportunity to challenge for spots in the final squad, while promising goalkeeper Jada Whyman has been included in the competitive shot-stopper room.
Australia will get their campaign for a historic World Cup trophy at home underway against Ireland on July 20 in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 80,000 fans at Sydney Olympic Park.
Matches against Nigeria in Brisbane (July 27) and challengers Canada in Melbourne (July 31) will follow, with the Matildas heavy favourites to advance out of the group.
The Matildas have announced their provisional squad for next month’s Women’s World Cup Down Under, with stars like Charlotte Grant (centre) to jostle for a spot in the final squad
Superstar Sam Kerr will captain a Matildas squad brimming with talent that is ready to shine on the global stage
After winning the Cup of Nations in February (pictured), can the Matildas be lifting a World Cup trophy come the final on August 20?
Coach Tony Gustavsson said the squad just proves that it is far more than just the Sam Kerr show for Australia – challenging for a World Cup requires depth, which the side has in spades.
‘From the first day of our first training session in 2021, we said it would take 23 in 23 for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and everyone would have a role to play in that journey,’ he said in a statement announcing the squad on Monday morning.
‘What we have seen is that it has actually taken more than 23 players to bring us to this moment and for that reason I am thrilled to work with the players named in this provisional squad during the final phase of our preparation.
‘I have been impressed by their full commitment at every step, and now we have the chance to fine tune and solidify our game plan ahead of a phenomenally exciting couple of weeks.
‘I would like to also take this opportunity to thank the Federation, my dedicated national team staff and the clubs for the support given to provide the players the platform to be as best prepared for the tournament of a lifetime.’
It sounds like hyperbole, but it really isn’t.
Playing in a home World Cup is the opportunity of a lifetime, and competition is fierce for spots in the final squad.
And the injury clouds surround a number of those top veterans mean exactly a month out from the opener that there is plenty to play out.
Veteran midfielder Tameka Yallop has a month to put fitness concerns to rest after she picked up an ankle injury against England in April
Kyah Simon (right, pictured playing for Tottenham last year alongside fellow Matilda Hayley Raso [left, Manchester City]) was a shock inclusion in the World Cup squad after tearing her ACL in October
111-cap veteran Simon is still a shot at being a crucial part of the forward rotation despite tearing her ACL while playing for Tottenham in October. At the time the worst was feared for the talented striker, but Gustavsson has given her a shot.
Gielnik had her WSL season for Aston Villa prematurely ended with an ankle injury in March, while fellow forward Logarzo hasn’t played since January. The luckless striker has had to contend with a number of injuries of the last two years.
Kennedy, quite possibly the side’s most influential defender along with superstar wing back Ellie Carpenter, has also had an injury-plagued season for Manchester City, and faces a big month ahead.
The Matildas most capped player, Clare Polkinghorne, and fellow veteran Tameka Yallop both need to continue rehabbing over the next month, with the latter hurting her ankle in the side’s win over England in April.
But if one door happens to close, another door opens, as they say.
Players like Hunt, Clare Wheeler, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Charlotte Grant and cult hero Alex Chidiac will be ready to step into the fold in a squad that has impressive depth.
Nine players ply their trade in the strong UK WSL league including Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley (Arsenal), Mary Fowler and Kennedy (Manchester City), Kerr (Chelsea), likely top-choice keeper Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham), Siemsen and Courtney Nevin (Leicester) and Lydia Williams (Brighton).
Arsenal gun Caitlin Foord (right, pictured after scoring in March) is one of nine Matildas players to ply their trade in the strong WSL league in the UK
That includes Sam Kerr, who won the WSL with Chelsea this season: their fourth in a row
The provisional squad is gathering on Queensland’s Gold Coast to prepare for the tournament until June 30, with Gustavsson saying it will provide a ‘platform to be as best prepared for the tournament of a lifetime.’
Kerr’s side will then head south to Melbourne to continue their preparations with a friendly against one of the favourites for the title, France, on July 14.
Mackenzie Arnold, Lydia Williams, Tegan Micah, Jada Whyman
Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Charlotte Grant, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Aivi Luik, Courtney Nevin, Clare Polkinghorne
Alex Chidiac, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Katrina Gorry, Chloe Logarzo, Amy Sayer, Emily van Egmond, Clare Wheeler, Tameka Yallop
Larissa Crummer, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Sam Kerr, Hayley Raso, Remy Siemsen, Kyah Simon, Cortnee Vine