Clare Polkinghorne struggled to get a grip on the Italian attack.
Clare Polkinghorne struggled to get a grip on the Italian attack.

Cagey Matildas keep Brazil guessing

ATTACK and defence, nothing is out of bounds for Matildas coach Ante Milicic as he looks to get Australia's World Cup campaign back on track against Brazil. 

The coach also hinted to front-third personnel tweaks for a match set to make or break Australia's World Cup fortunes.

Polkinghorne, one of only two recognised central defenders in the squad, did not train with the main squad the day before their crunch Group C clash in Montpellier.

The 30-year-old has dealt with hamstring soreness since Sunday's 2-1 opening loss to Italy.

 

And while she'll be given until match day to prove her fitness, Milicic indicated he'd be erring on the side of caution.

"We know with those injuries that unless she has done sprinting work it makes it difficult to participate in such a game that will be played at a high tempo," Milicic said.

"We will give her every chance to be available for the game … we will assess her in the morning.

"It's getting better and better ... but at the same time there is a duty of care towards Clare as well."

Steph Catley looks likely to move into the centre of defence.
Steph Catley looks likely to move into the centre of defence.

Left-back Steph Catley is the most feasible central defensive replacement should Polkinghorne not play, with Gema Simon seeming the most likely to fill the vice-captain's regular role.

"We haven't finalised everything yet, but it's a role I know how to play and if I am needed there then I can definitely step in there and play a role," Catley said.

"We have got an experienced backline and we still have the cool, calm and collected heads in there who can control the back line no matter who is in there."

There's also scope for potential changes up front.

Hayley Raso and Chloe Logarzo have supported striker Sam Kerr against Italy and the preceding friendly against the Netherlands, but Emily Gielnik has also impressed in recent outings and brings physicality and apt finishing.

"We've got a few options with our wide strikers," Milicic said.

Elise Kellond-Knight is pushing hard for a starting role.
Elise Kellond-Knight is pushing hard for a starting role.

"There's a good chance that we'll be looking to change a couple of things out there."

Milicic said both Lisa De Vanna and Caitlin Foord had pulled up well from respective knocks and would be fine to play, though Mary Fowler (hamstring) remained no certainty despite completing the majority of Wednesday's session.

"Once she's warmed up and trained she feels confident," Milicic said.

"But with a young player getting to train and turn at high speed to getting ready to say 100 per cent with confidence she will play a part in the game, that's a decision that we will have to make again tomorrow."

A call on whether Kellond-Knight will start or be used off the bench will also be made on match day.

"It's very positive for us that we can definitely get more minutes from her with the Brazil game than what she got against Italy," he said.

News Corp Australia


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