Ante Milicic says teen sensation Mary Fowler could make her Matildas debut in Wednesday morning’s (AEST) clash with Jamaica as Australia look to secure their spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Round of 16.
The Matildas only need a draw in their final Group C clash at the Stade Des Alpes to ensure they progress to the knockout phase of the tournament.
Ahead of the clash, Milicic and experienced goalkeeper Lydia Williams fronted the official pre-match press conference in Grenoble.
Here’s some of the key points to come out of the presser.
Fowler cleared for Jamaica clash
The young attacker missed the first two group matches against Italy and Brazil with a hamstring strain but has been cleared to play some part against Jamaica.
If Fowler, 16, gets on the pitch she will become the fifth-youngest player ever in FIFA Women’s World Cup history.
“She’s got a lot of potential. She’s worked well, even now, coming back from an injury she’s put herself in a position where she’s looked good.
“But at the same time, we don’t give out minutes or caps for any other reason than someone deserves to affect a game of football and that’s how we’ll approach.”
Polkinghorne out, Yallop in doubt
Milicic confirmed that defender Clare Polkinghorne would miss a second consecutive match with a hamstring problem, meaning Steph Catley would again deputise in central defence.
All-action midfielder Tameka Yallop missed training on Tuesday and remains in doubt.
“Tameka, we’ll have a look at her [on the morning of the match. If she gets through a few drills and we’re convinced and she’s also comfortable with being able to play a part in the game, then she’ll be available,” Milicic said.
“Otherwise she’ll join Clare on the sidelines
“We’ll give Tameka every chance to make herself available for the game. She’s been a very important player for us, she’s been exceptional over the first couple of games.
“So we’ll see how she goes and we’ll look at the options from there, but that’s definitely a couple of things we can consider.”
Potential Group C scenarios
At the same time as Australia’s game with Jamaica, Brazil will be doing battle with Italy in Valenciennes.
If Brazil can defeat the already-qualified Italians, the Matildas would have the chance to snatch top sot in the group with a big win over the Central Americans.
But if Brazil fail to take all three points, victory for Australia would mean a second-place finish in the group, meaning they would avoid host nation and tournament heavyweights France.
"We'll just focus on what we can control and that's our performance," Milicic said.
“For us, where we are as a team, we don’t fear any opponent so where we finish - first, second or third - and who we come up against at what stadium, we have no fear.
“We first have to make sure we put ourselves in a position to get to the round of 16. Once we do that we’ll worry about what happens afterwards but we’re confident we’re going to stick to our principles, stick to our attacking style and we believe that gives us the best chance to progress further in this tournament.”
Respect for Jamaica
Ranked at no.53 in the world, the Jamaicans – on paper at least – should be the easiest match of the group stage for the Matildas.
Jamaica has yet to find the net in their opening two games, losing to Brazil (3-0) and Italy (5-0).
“We’ve analysed Jamaica, they have some good players. No game in a World Cup is easy and if we’re not focused it could really bite us in the butt, so we’re going in fully focussed on what we need to do,” Williams said.
“But we also want to try and play a really entertaining style of football and maintain the pressure throughout the whole game.”
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