(Reuters) – Australia central defender Clare Polkinghorne is unavailable for their final Group C game at the women’s World Cup, coach Ante Milicic has said, but 16-year-old striker Mary Fowler could get a runout against Jamaica.
The Matildas, who have one loss and one win in their group matches so far, are strong favourites to beat Jamaica in Grenoble on Tuesday and take their place in the knockout stages of the tournament.
Polkinghorne missed the 3-2 comeback win over Brazil with a hamstring problem and Steph Catley will again replace her at the heart of the defence, while there is also an injury cloud over midfielder Tameka Yallop, Milicic told reporters.
Fowler, however, has recovered from a hamstring strain of her own and could feature off the bench against the Caribbean islanders, who have lost their first two matches and are the 53rd best team in the world according to the FIFA rankings.
“She’s got a lot of potential,” Milicic said of Fowler.
“We’ll see how the game unfolds. We’ve got to look at every player individually. There are three games in 10 days, it’s quite a big ask for us and the work that we’ve put in.
“But at the same time, we don’t give out minutes or caps for any other reason than someone deserves to affect a game of football and that’s how we’ll approach.”
The Matildas could still top the group despite their 2-1 opening loss to Italy but they would need Brazil to beat the Italians in Valenciennes and rack up a hefty score against the Jamaicans.
“We first have to make sure we put ourselves in a position to get to the round of 16,” Milicic added.
“Once we do that we’ll worry about what happens afterwards but we’re confident we’re going to stick to our principles, stick to our attacking style and we believe that gives us the best chance to progress further in this tournament.”
(Writing by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)