Teenage talent Mary Fowler has been convinced to give the Matildas another shot, with the 16-year-old a headline inclusion by Ante Milicic in his 23-woman squad to take on world champions USA.
Fowler – who walked away from national team duty under previous coach Alen Stajcic – will next month travel to Colorado along with two uncapped players, as Milicic mulls his World Cup squad.
US-based goalkeeper Teagan Micah and Sydney FC’s Elizabeth Ralston will also get the chance to make their claims for a ticket to France. Captain Sam Kerr will lead the side, with five changes to the squad that won the Cup of Nations earlier this month.
Midfielder Katrina Gorry and attacking threat Chloe Logarzo return after injuries, joining Fowler, Micah and Ralston as inclusions. Alex Chidiac will remain in Spain with club Atlético Madrid, while Amy Harrison, Princess Ibini, Teresa Polias and Eliza Campbell have missed out.
Kyah Simon has missed selection due to injury, but remains in the frame to travel to France should she prove her fitness. The exclusion of Michelle Heyman looks to be the death knell for her chance of reaching a second World Cup, as Milicic ponders other attacking threats.
Chief among them is Fowler, who made her Matildas debut against Brazil last year as a 15-year-old and stood out in a high-profile friendly draw against England in just her third cap.
She hasn’t played for Australia since reports that her family was dismayed by a characterisation of her nomadic life by ex-coach Stajcic. Two of Fowler’s siblings have represented Ireland at youth international level.
She has previously said she would like to play for both Australia and the same nation as her siblings. Milicic will give her a chance to win a place in his World Cup squad while in America, but stated it must be on merit.
“It has been my intention from the outset to give as many players as possible a chance to impress ahead of our final squad selection for France,” Milicic said. “We will be looking for players to step up in the United States, both in training and our match against the world’s number one ranked side.
“As a unit we will be aiming to build upon the foundations and standards we set during the recent Cup of Nations.”
Matildas squad: Mackenzie Arnold, Lydia Williams, Teagan Micah; Teigen Allen, Laura Alleway, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy, Clare Polkinghorne, Elizabeth Ralson, Gema Simon; Tameka Butt, Katrina Gorry, Elise Kellond-Knight, Chloe Logarzo, Aivi Luik, Emily van Egmond; Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Sam Kerr, Hayley Raso.