Newcastle’s Gema Simon is expected to come into the mix as the Matildas prepare to turn the tables on Chile at McDonald Jones Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Jets co-captain was a late addition to the Australian women’s football squad for the two-match international series against Chile and was not used when they were stunned 3-2 in Penrith on Saturday by the side ranked 33 places lower in the world.
But Matildas coach Alen Stajcic said the Croudace Bay 28-year-old was “a good chance of playing” in front of a strong home-town crowd.
“The thing with Gema is she’s been in this team over a long period of time but she’s always had injuries,” Stajcic said on Monday.
“Almost every time she’s come into national camp she’s had a niggle or a knock and had to withdraw from games or camps.
“So just seeing her fit and healthy is the most important thing for me because in terms of actual football ability she’s such a good player and has been for a long time.
“She’s now 28 years old and I’ve known her since she was 15, playing schoolgirls, so I’ve always thought she was an excellent player.
“To be a left-footed player in our team is also very important, so if she can have a good game tomorrow night, it will give her a chance of being in the squad a little bit longer.”
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Jets teammate Emily van Egmond is a certain starter and if Simon takes to the pitch it is sure to be an emotional moment after what has been “a pretty rough year”.
The Newcastle left-back has had an injury-hampered career and played through pain to help the Jets make the W-League finals last season.
After surgery in February and a lengthy rehabilitation process, Simon focused on returning to the peak of her powers and has enjoyed a return to Matildas camp after a 12-month absence.
Her call-up came after Jets defender Larissa Crummer withdrew because of a thigh injury.
“I’m just happy to be in the squad at the moment and just taking it day by day and just trying to work hard,” Simon said.
“If I get on the field then that’s great, and if not then it’s been a great week and I’m happy to be back in the squad.
“I definitely feel for Larissa, so if I get on the field hopefully I can play for her and the rest of the town.”
Stajcic said there could be three or four changes but would not finalise his starting side until after training at McDonald Jones Stadium on Monday night.
But the attacking brand of football the Matildas have become known for will remain the same.
“We go out to win every game and every moment and that will never change … we don’t play for a draw, we don’t sit back,” Stajcic said.
“We’re an aggressive team, we’re an attacking team and we have that mindset and that will be the same for us again tomorrow night in Newcastle.”
The sting of the loss to Chile is expected to add some flavour to the clash.
“I think we’re always motivated, especially playing in front of a home crowd but hopefully there’s a little bit more edge to the game,” Stajcic said.
“Every loss hurts everyone and some people take it in different ways but I think they’ve got to the point now where it really hurts, which is a good thing.
“But I just don’t think fight, or attitude, or courage, or resilience is ever below a nine out of 10 in this team. It’s always a nine or a 10. They’re not the things that we need to worry about. They’re the things that they give all of the time.”
After gifting Chile two goals then going missing for a good portion of the second half in Penrith, mentality will be a focus in Newcastle.
“It’s more about what we do within moments of the game and ensuring that we keep evolving as a group where you can deal with different things that happen in a game, whether you’re the dominant team or the non-dominant team,” Stajcic said.
The game at McDonald Jones Stadium kicks off at 7.30pm.