Key Matildas return ahead of Olympics

Vice-captain Steph Catley and star midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight will make welcome returns to a Matildas squad desperate for redemption in friendlies against Denmark and Sweden this month.

Injuries ruled the key pair out of Australia’s squad for April’s humiliating 5-2 and 5-0 losses to Germany and the Netherlands respectively.

But Arsenal defender Catley and Sweden-based Kellond-Knight are among a host of changes in Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson’s latest 25-strong squad, with experienced trio Ellie Carpenter, Kyah Simon and Tameka Yallop also returning.

The squad also includes Young Matildas Kyra Cooney-Cross, Courtney Nevin and Charlotte Grant, who are all in contention to make their senior national debuts.

Chopped from the last squad are Emma Checker, Chloe Logarzo, Dylan Homes, Amy Sayer, Karly Roestbakken, Indiah-Paige Riley, Alexandra Huynh and Ella Mastrantonio, while veteran striker Lisa De Vanna has again been overlooked in another sign that her Matildas career is over.

Gustavsson said April’s fiasco had given him plenty of “questions and answers” in building a competitive squad for the Olympic Games football tournament starting next month.

Steph Catley has been recalled to Australia’s squad. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“We have analysed the squad and identified the areas that require strengthening and players that have weapons to enhance the national team,” Gustavsson said.

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

“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.”

The Matildas arrive in Bastad, Sweden on Sunday ahead of their matches against Denmark (June 11), and Sweden (June 16) in Horsnes and Kalmar respectively.

“The focus of this camp will be on preparing ourselves for the opponents we will meet in 50 days (at the Olympics). It is why we have chosen tough opponents in Denmark and Sweden,” Gustavsson said.

“We need to observe, in a challenging environment, if the players called up can assist us in executing game plans that can be successful in July.”

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.

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