Tony Gustavsson and his staff have selected a 25-player squad to play The Republic of Ireland as The Matildas enter what he calls “preparation mode” for 2023.
Australia has only scheduled one game in the international window. The extra time is devoted to training as Gustavsson looks to “sharpen the tools” at his disposal.
“This is a chance to start looking into those improvements that we saw after the Olympics that we need to do,” said the coach to the media.
“We’re really proud of the Olympics, but we also identified some key areas that we need to improve on in order to bring that medal home.
“One of the things that we wanted was to give players the opportunities… even some of those players that are not really ready…we need to see where they can be in two years from now.”
“The only way to do that is to bring them into the Matildas environment, to expose them to that high international tempo that we have.”
Brisbane young gun Jamilla Rankin will join the senior squad for the first time and former Melbourne Victory captain Angie Beard will join her, marking her first appearance in a Matildas training camp squad in some time.
Charlotte Grant has been called up again and along with Courtney Nevin and Steph Catley, they make up the five specialist left-backs selected.
Gustavsson seemed eager to explore the possibilities in that position.
“A left foot would be good,” he says when asked about what he is looking for in the fullbacks.
“There are some advantages for those players brought in because we want to have a look at some left-footed players, to give us that more tools in the buildup phase and also in the final third.
“It’s also looking at players that have performed well…if you’ve performed well you deserve a shot to come into the Matildas to test yourself and see what it’s about.
“I know that for some of these players it’s a big step up, but they need to be exposed to it to understand the demands of the international game, and then we can have individual development plans for these players.
“If we do play with three back, some of these players can play as a center back similar to Ellie Carpenter’s role in the Olympics…an attacking center back role.”
Gustavsson is clear that as they prepare for The World Cup, friendly matches will be used to test new formations, personal and tactics.
There is a heavy emphasis on defenders in this squad. Jenna McCormick makes her return, Emma Checker is recalled and Winonah Heatley has been selected.
Gustavsson is adamant that the DNA and attitude of the team will not change.
“In the center and the heart of everything we do, we’re always going to be a very aggressive, pressing team. A high octane attacking team, that’s not going to change.
“It’s more about can we still do what we do, do it better, and make sure we don’t get exposed on the counter, the way we did in the Olympics at times.”
Caitlin Foord will miss the training camp with a quad injury and Sydney FC’s Remy Siemsen has been given a chance in her place. It is the only change to the Matildas attack from the Olympics as Mary Fowler and Kyra Cooney-Cross retain their places.
Ireland is ranked 33rd in the world, a slight departure from the FIFA top-ten opponents that Gustavsson has sought out so far but he expects a strong test.
“We need to play as many unique opponents as possible, different types of opponents. Ireland is giving us a very different picture to other European opponents so far.
“They’re extremely hard working and they don’t shy away from a tackle, it’s going to be a physical game.
“They also play a different formation from most of the teams in the Olympics, which we also need to face.”
Gustavsson was hesitant to use the word “experiment” but with the new faces in the team and the focus switching from results to preparation there could be some interesting and exciting selections in the next match.
The Matildas may have achieved their best-ever Olympic result, but they are not standing still as they look to improve.
Australia takes on The Republic of Ireland at 4am AEST on September 22.
Matildas 25-Player Squad | 22 September 2021 | Republic of Ireland VS Australia
|Name||Club, Country||Caps (Goals)|
|Mackenzie Arnold||West Ham United, England||26 (0)|
|Angela Beard||Fortuna Hjørring, Netherlands||0 (0)|
|Ellie Carpenter||Lyon, France||50 (1)|
|Steph Catley||Arsenal WFC, England||91 (3)|
|Emma Checker||Selfos / Melbourne City, Iceland/Australia||7 (0)|
|Kyra Cooney-Cross||Melbourne Victory, Australia||9 (0)|
|Mary Fowler||Montpellier, France||15 (2)|
|Emily Gielnik||Aston Villa, England||48 (11)|
|Charlotte Grant||FC Rosengård, Sweden||0 (0)|
|Amy Harrison||PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands||13 (0)|
|Winonah Heatley||Växjö, Sweden||0 (0)|
|Alanna Kennedy||Manchester City, England||98 (8)|
|Sam Kerr||Chelsea, England||99 (48)|
|Chloe Logarzo||Kansas City, USA||53 (8)|
|Jenna McCormick||AGF Fodbold, Denmark||4 (0)|
|Teagan Micah||FC Rosengård, Sweden||7 (0)|
|Courtney Nevin||Unattached||3 (0)|
|Clare Polkinghorne||Vittsjö GIK, Sweden||135 (11)|
|Jamilla Rankin||Brisbane Roar, Australia||0 (0)|
|Hayley Raso||Manchester City, England||56 (6)|
|Kyah Simon||Tottenham Hotspur, England||101 (26)|
|Remy Siemsen||Sydney FC, Australia||0 (0)|
|Emily van Egmond||Unattached||108 (23)|
|Lydia Williams||Arsenal, England||91 (0)|
|Tameka Yallop||West Ham United, England||96 (11)|
Image Supplied: Matildas