Door still open for spots in World Cup squad

Head Coach Alen Stajcic has a clear message for the players who missed out on selection for the Westfield Matildas’ European Tour – the door for a spot in the FIFA Women’s World Cup squad is not closed.

Despite Stajcic seeing the six week tour as an integral part of the Westfield Matildas’ preparations for June’s showpiece, he declared it was by no means a forgone conclusion that the squad in Europe was the one that would be on the plane to Canada.

“This is really the bulk of our preparation for the World Cup. We’ve got nine games scheduled while we are away so by the time we get to the end of the tour we should be close to finalising the team,” Stajcic said.

“But the door remains open for those who didn’t make this tour. We’ve played two games and had four camps. There are still 33-35 players still in contention. So far we’ve been really pleased with who has been involved.”

Another three players Stajcic is keen to add to that number is goalkeeper Lydia Williams, midfielder and 2013/14 Julie Dolan Medallist Tameka Butt and livewire forward Samantha Kerr.

The trio are on the comeback trail from injury and together with an additional three players, will join the rest of the Matildas squad in Italy after the Cyprus Cup.

Williams had a knee reconstruction in July last year, Kerr injured her knee while playing for Perth Glory during the last Westfield W-League season, while Butt is coming back from an ankle injury.

The trio’s involvement since the Westfield Matildas began their training camps leading up to the FIFA Women’s World Cup has been limited but they are progressing well and Stajcic is eager to have them in contention for a spot.

“Our goal is to try and get some game time into them by the end of the tour,” Stajcic said.

“They’re important players so we’re going to give them every chance to get back to 100 per cent fitness.”

Four of the nine matches the Westfield Matildas are scheduled to play in Europe will be at the Cyprus Cup, Australia grouped with the Netherlands, England and Finland for the round robin tournament that will conclude with every competing country playing a match on a designated Finals Day.

Following the Cyprus Cup, there are also matches planned against Austria and Scotland while Stajcic is also hopeful of confirming two matches against African countries while in Italy as he continues to fine tune the Matildas’ playing style and shape.

“We really wanted tough opposition leading up the World Cup and we’re going to get that in Cyprus and during our time in Europe,” Stajcic said.

“Results are always important but the main things are working on our structure and movement. The style of play is more paramount at this point.”

Meanwhile, Stajcic is hopeful of organising two internationals on home soil before the squad flies out for a pre Women’s World Cup camp in Vancouver on May 23.

See all of the Matildas’ games at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 live on SBS ONE