Home Australia Matildas’ growing injury list exposes shallow pool of players to take advantage of

Matildas’ growing injury list exposes shallow pool of players to take advantage of

by Elijah
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Two members of the Matildas jump in the air for joy to celebrate a goal.

First came the injuries to Chloe Logarzo, Lydia Williams and Charlie Rule, and we didn’t talk about it because they hadn’t played for the Matildas for a while anyway.

Then they came for Katrina Gorry, Clare Hunt and Courtney Nevin, and we didn’t talk because they were replaced by Sharn Frier, Winonah Heatley and Emily Gielnik, and perhaps Wednesday’s friendly against Mexico could be used to test other players?

Then they came for Aivi Luik, and we didn’t talk because surely seven injuries would be enough for a single international window and the universe cannot be that cruel.

Sam Kerr will already miss the Paris Olympics due to injury. Will Emily Gielnik follow him?(AAP: James Elsby)

Then they came for Gielnik. The player who had been called up as an injury replacement and had only been in camp for a week. And now speaking has become a matter of urgency.

With less than three months until the Paris Olympics and just one more national team camp scheduled for late May against China, the Matildas’ recent influx of injuries has become less of a flashing red light and more of a siren. that moans and moans.

This sentiment is not new to long-time Matildas fans. Team depth has been a source of anxiety for several years, and Football Australia admitted as much in its 2020 Performance Gap Report showing that Australia had, at the time, one of the most superficial national teams in international women’s football, with a much greater jump for fringe or emerging players into the core team than many other comparable national teams.

Closing this gap and creating depth in the team has been one of coach Tony Gustavsson’s two main responsibilities since taking over at the end of 2020 (in addition to progressing as far as possible in the major tournaments).

Players such as Clare Hunt, Mackenzie Arnold, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Charlie Grant, Cortnee Vine, Amy Sayer, Michelle Heyman, Clare Wheeler and Katrina Gorry have been discovered or revitalized under Gustavsson, with two fourth-place finishes at the Tokyo Olympics. and last year’s World Cup prove it.

But the group of players below the Matildas (i.e. those developing at A-League Women level) are still struggling to catch up, going through their own growing pains as the domestic competition winds down. lengthens and becomes professional.

However, whether it is moving fast enough to keep up with the standards now required of international-level actors is a more pressing question as today’s leading actors age and their bodies become less resilient.

Cortnee Vine, wearing a yellow shirt and green shorts (her Matildas uniform), takes the winning penalty against France.

Cortnee Vine was plucked from the A-League Women and has become a Matildas regular. But she is an exception to the rule.(Getty Images: Justin Setterfield)

Australia is not the only team facing such a depth crisis exposed by injuries.

Several teams that have qualified for this year’s Games are experiencing similar problems, and while the exact causes and consequences of their respective injuries are as varied as the injuries themselves, the common denominator is that, in recent years, these best World-class players have been playing more football for their clubs and countries with fewer opportunities to rest in between.

According to research by FIFPro, the global players’ union, one of the biggest problems facing the future of women’s football is the global match calendar: the puzzle of how local, regional and international competitions are assembled into something resembling a annual calendar. schedule.

Increasingly, more governing bodies want to include more competitions (and therefore more commercial opportunities) in this calendar, such as UEFA introducing the Women’s Nations League, or the AFC restarting its Women’s Club Championship last year.

However, this has happened so quickly that players who started out as amateurs or semi-professionals and were rarely given the resources to develop from a young age have suddenly found themselves thrust into football full-time.

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