Matildas bolster squad for Denmark, Sweden friendlies ahead of Tokyo Olympics


Vice-captain Steph Catley headlines a plethora of big names bolstering the Matildas for their friendlies against Denmark and Sweden.

Australia slumped to a 5-2 loss to Germany and 5-0 defeat to The Netherlands in their first two matches under coach Tony Gustavsson in April but have a vastly more experienced 25-player squad for June’s friendlies.

The matches are a crucial part of preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, where Australia will face New Zealand, Sweden and the United States in the group stage.

Catley (hamstring) and midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight (knee) both return from extensive injury lay-offs, while star defender Ellie Carpenter and experienced duo Tameka Yallop and Kyah Simon will also head into their first camp under Gustavsson.

It is a quintet with more than 400 combined international caps.

But there was no room for veteran forward Lisa De Vanna, who was called up for a training camp of Australian-based players last month but did not make the final cut.

“When it comes to building the roster, we need to ensure we have balance across the squad,” Gustavsson said.

“We need different player types. We need depth in different positions and need some players that provide flexibility between the lines.

“All of this means that difficult decisions had to be made, particularly in positions like the forward line where there is an abundance of talent but limited positions.

“Unfortunately, that has meant some top-quality players have not been selected this time around, however, the door is still open as football is unpredictable and we always need to be adaptable.”

Carpenter and Amy Harrison return after COVID-19 scares at their respective clubs ruled them out of the April window but midfielder Chloe Logarzo is a notable absentee, having missed Kansas City’s recent National Women’s Soccer League matches in the United States through a hip injury.

W-League breakout star and 2019 World Cup stand-by player Kyra Cooney-Cross and fellow 19-year-olds Charlotte Grant and Courtney Nevin are all in line to earn their first caps, along with uncapped goalkeeper Teagan Micah.

Veteran defender Caitlin Cooper and young midfielder Alex Chidiac return to the fold after strong W-League seasons.

The Matildas head into camp in Sweden on June 6 and play Denmark in Horsens on June 11 (AEST) and Sweden in Kalmar on June 16 (AEST).

Matildas squad:

Mackenzie Arnold, Laura Brock, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Alex Chidiac, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Cooper, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Beatrice Goad, Charlotte Grant, Amy Harrison, Elise Kellond-Knight, Alanna Kennedy, Sam Kerr, Aivi Luik, Teagan Micah, Courtney Nevin, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Kyah Simon, Emily van Egmond, Lydia Williams, Tameka Yallop

ABC TV will broadcast the Denmark friendly from 2:00am (AEST) on June 11 and the Sweden friendly from 2:45am (AEST) on June 16.

AAP



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