Australian football is taking its first tentative steps into an age of enlightenment after decades in the darkness.
Teenager Mary Fowler has been named in Australia’s squad for the Women’s World Cup but injury-plagued forward Kyah Simon has missed selection.
Ante Milicic has unveiled his 23-woman squad for the World Cup, largely backing in proven Matildas talent over potential as he plots Australia’s assault on the trophy.
Sam Kerr will lead a richly-experienced Matildas squad in France, with Milicic selecting a squad with more than 1200 international caps under their belt.
Teenage wonder-forward Mary Fowler and uncapped goalkeeper Teagan Micah are the exceptions, with Fowler making the grade ahead of injury-plagued striker Kyah Simon.
Simon lost her battle to prove her fitness after a severe ankle injury, suffering a setback in the last month while on club duty in America.
She will still head to Turkey this week for Australia’s pre-tournament training camp.
Simon and 17-year-old midfielder Kyra Cooney-Cross will travel as back-up players ahead of Australia’s first match of the campaign; on June 9 against Italy.
Katrina Gorry, Chloe Logarzo and Amy Harrison have survived the cut despite a lack of football in recent months.
Those most unlucky to miss out include Simon, Alex Chidiac, Princess Ibini and Elizabeth Ralston.
Milicic is taking just seven defenders, suggesting he has faith in midfielders like Elise Kellond-Knight and Harrison, who have played in defensive roles previously, to help if need be.
Milicic suggested the chance to contend for the trophy was front of his mind while making his selections.
“We will have genuine competition for starting positions across all areas of the pitch,” he said.
“This is a special group of Australian footballers because, as a unit, they have accumulated a wealth of international experience despite the average age of the team being quite young.
“Having players that have appeared at multiple FIFA Women’s World Cups in our squad will help to guide the eight players traveling to their first Women’s World Cup.”
Milicic saved special praise for Australia’s three veterans that will be appearing at their fourth event.
”I don’t like to single out individuals, however I would like to congratulate Lisa (De Vanna), Clare (Polkinghorne), and Lydia (Williams) for earning selection in their fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup squads.
The feat of longevity has been achieved by just two Socceroos; Tim Cahill and Mark Milligan.
Goalkeepers: Mackenzie Arnold, Teagan Micha, Lydia Williams.
Defenders: Teigen Allen, Laura Alleway, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy, Clare Polkinghorne, Gema Simon.
Midfielders: Katrina Gorry, Amy Harrison, Elise Kellond-Knight, Chloe Logarzo, Aivi Luik, Emily van Egmond, Tameka Yallop.
Attackers: Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Sam Kerr, Hayley Raso.
Standby players: Kyra Cooney-Cross, Kyah Simon