On the 26th and 29th of June, The Matildas will face off against Spain and Portugal. The two nations would have been a difficult but exciting proposition for the familiar squad.
However, Tony Gustavsson has opted to rest many of the star names such as Sam Kerr, Halyey Raso and Alanna Kennedy.
This has provided opportunities for some young and fringe players. Kick360 takes a look at five uncapped players that Australians should be excited to watch.
The reigning Young Scottish PFA Player of the Year is in line for her first Matildas cap. The Celtic attacker has been in strong form this season. Along with the individual award, she has won two cups in Scotland over the past season and been a key player in their success.
Galabadaarachchi is a confident, creative, and fearless player. As a youngster in the then W-League with Perth Glory and Melbourne City she was deployed as a tricky, quick striker.
Her time in Europe with West Ham, Napoli and now Celtic has seen her used in deeper roles. She has vision and technique. Galabadaarachchi creates scoring chances either through her running or pinpoint passing.
Should she see game time against Spain or Portugal this will be her long awaited first cap for the national team. Galabadaarachchi has long been on the radar, and was in the training camp leading up to the 2019 World Cup.
Recently, she has suggested that she may be open to representing another country. She is also eligible for Argentina. However, the brilliant young playmaker has finally received the call up her form deserves.
Playing Euro 2022 favourites Spain will be a huge step up from dominating in Scotland. But Galabadaarachchi has shown in her career moves and playing style that she does not lack confidence, or experience.
Along with Mary Fowler and Amy Sayer, she is one of a crop of rising stars that specialise in unlocking defences.
Galabadaarachchi is stylish, entertaining and skillful. She will be eager to show the world what she can do on the 29th of June.
The Adelaide United centre back is coming off her best season to date. Under Adrian Stenta, The Reds played an aggressive game style that brought the best out of his side.
McNamara was both a goal threat from set pieces and a defensive giant in their best season to date which ended in a first finals appearance.
Adelaide did not defend in numbers. After a rocky start to the season, Mcnamara build up a strong partnership with American defender Kayal Sharples. The pair were trusted to quickly snuff out any danger and quickly launch counter-attacks for their side, either with decisive passes into midfield and wings, or with a surging solo run to break the lines.
Matilda McNamara is a natural center back. She is not only one of the best young players in the competition, but one of the best defenders of any age .
She has pace, height and technique. The call up to the senior national team feels like a natural progression in her impressive career. Her arrival in camp will see her reunited with former Adelaide United and youth Futsal teammate Alex Chidiac. This is where both of them belong.
Hawkesby exploded into form last season. She was one of Sydney FC’s most important players as they surged to an early and unassailable lead at the top of the table.
In a breakthrough individual campaign, she scored five goals and registered 10 assists from midfield over the 2021/22 season.
Hawkesby stepped for Sydney FC up in the absence of the departed star Clare Wheeler. Her drive and composure in midfield quickly saw her rise from valued contributor to talismanic midfielder as she helped her club to another premiership.
She is a hard working midfielder who is capable of winning possession and making good decision on the ball. Similarly to Tameka Yallop, Hawkesby can be deployed in almost any midfield position but is most valuable in the final third.
She has an impressive passing range and impeccable timing. Her late runs into the box make her a hard player to track for defenders. It was a common sight for Cortnee Vine or Princess Ibini-Isei to cut the ball back for an arriving Hawkesby last season.
Both of those players have international caps already, and Hawkesby will likely join them. Australian fans will be hopeful that the trio along with Remy Siemsen can recreate that Sydney FC chemistry as Matildas.
Like Hawkesby, Taylor Ray had big shoes to fill last season. Theresa Polias is a Sydney FC icon and rightfully so. For over a decade, she has patrolled their midfield. The legendary skipper snuffed out attacks and helped control possession.
In her absence for 2021/22, it was easy to worry how Ante Juric might solve that problem, especially in the absence of any big-name recruits.
He did not need any. Taylor Ray was disciplined, dominant and impassable for much of Sydney FC’s season. The chemistry with Rachel Lowe and Mackenzie Hawkesby (both in this squad) was hard for any team to match.
Ray’s ability to tackle and retain possession allowed Sydney to flourish in attack. She provided defensive stability in a team that would otherwise have been vulnerable to counter attacks.
Her passing is tidy and usually moves the ball forward, and as The Matildas continue to search for a long term number six, this call up felt inevitable.
It would likely have come sooner. Ray was shortlisted for the 2022 Asian Cup, but was withdrawn because of COVID. She would have come in very handy against South Korean star Ji So-Yun.
The Melbourne City defender was another who was close to inclusion in Tony Gustavsson’s Asian Cup squad. In the end, her club teammate Holly Mcnamara got the nod with an attacking option preferred.
Heatley continued the form that got her noticed to begin with. Gustavsson is a fan of her ability to create the play from defence. She is an athletic and intelligent defender, but it is her decisive passing that makes her truly stand out.
Melbourne City were blessed with numerous defensive options in 2021/22, but had less depth in midfield. Heatley’s emergence as a high quality and consistent defender allowed Rebakah Stott to push into midfield to great effect.
Heatley is the kind of player Gustavsson loves. She is not only technically proficient but tactically versatile. She can be used in a back four or three.
Spain and Portugal will be huge test for the 20-year-old defender. Gustavsson has shown that he is not afraid to trust young players against high quality opponents. Heatley is one that looks ready for the opportunity.
The Matildas play Spain on the 26th on June and Portugal on the 29th.