Simon out to inspire as Westfield Matildas return caps injury comeback

Gema Simon is hoping to inspire the Hunter Valley’s next generation after ending her injury nightmare with a “dream” return to the Westfield Matildas.

The experienced defender earned a late call-up following club team-mate Larissa Crummer’s withdrawal.

The Newcastle Jets co-captain's first international appearance since undergoing knee surgery in February could fittingly arrive at her ground of McDonald Jones Stadium and potentially alongside fellow local Emily van Egmond.

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Simon, who has been restricted to just a handful of matches in the past 12 months, is excited to ensure some good comes from Crummer’s setback when Australia face Chile on Tuesday night.

“I definitely feel for Larissa,” the 28-year-old said. “If I get on the field, hopefully I can play for her and the rest of the town.

“Growing up, you always want to play for your country and to do it in your home town is something special. It’s a dream come true.

“And it’s awesome to have Em with me as well. I’ve known her for about 15 years and I’m so happy to play with her.

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the squad, or whether it’s a late call-up, once you get on the field you’re playing for your team-mates.”

The Westfield Matildas turned on the style on their last visit to Newcastle, beating Brazil 3-2 in front of a huge audience in September 2017.

Simon said the succession of big crowds demonstrated just how far the team has come and expects more of the same for the second of the two-match Seven Consulting International Series.

“The crowd support here is amazing and the atmosphere last year was second to none that I’ve experienced,” she said.

“You see how excited they are and you remember why you play football: for the love of the game.

“You just want to do well for them, set a good example for them and give them something to strive for as well.”