Ante Milicic believes there are some tough decisions on the horizon as competition for a FIFA Women’s World Cup ticket heats up for the Westfield Matildas.
Milicic, 44, announced a 23-player squad on Friday for next month’s pre-tournament training camp in America and forthcoming friendly with USA on April 5 (AEDT).
Among those selected are returning midfield dynamos Katrina Gorry and Chloe Logarzo, while teenage striker Mary Fowler, Sydney FC defender Elizabeth Ralston and young ex-Brisbane Roar goalkeeper Teagan Micah complete the roster.
The five fresh faces did not feature in Australia’s successful Cup of Nations campaign (Sydney FC star Logarzo was initially selected but withdrew because of an ankle injury) but are sure to ignite competition for spots ahead of next month’s crucial USA clash.
And Milicic is looking forward to seeing how both the new arrivals and Cup of Nations players raise the bar in America – and said that the door has not shut on those who have missed out on heading stateside.
“I want to see as many players as I can live,” Milicic said.
“This is another opportunity to see another five players live. I was happy with how the first camp went but just because players have missed out now doesn’t mean that they’re not a chance to be on the plane to France.
“I want to see the players live, want to see how they take in the information, how they handle themselves, how they execute the footballing style that we want to play.
“I know that there will be a tough decision to make in mid-May.”
The challenge of USA provides the Westfield Matildas with a big test to nail their ambitions for France to the mast.
Jill Ellis’ side will enter the tournament in June among the hot favourites having clinched the 2015 edition in Canada.
But although Australia are eagerly approaching the chance to land a psychological boost ahead of France, Milicic says nurturing the Westfield Matildas’ playing style and handing minutes to those who require match fitness will take priority.
“It’s important that we’re smart, the way we go around the line-up but the subs when we do use them and who we use,” Milicic said.
“We are potentially going into the game with some players who won’t be in position that take part in that game, so I’m really interested to see how the players pull up when they come in.
“We’ve got quite a few that have started their pre-seasons with their USA clubs.
“The game is all about building on what we did in the Cup of Nations, giving players an opportunity and keep working on our playing style.”