Versatile veteran Aivi Luik and in-form Melbourne City striker Holly McNamara have been recalled to the Matildas squad for next month’s two-match series against Canada.
Sweden-based Luik, 38, wasn’t considered for Australia’s recent Olympic Games qualifiers with Iran, the Philippines and Chinese Taipei due to injury.
However, Luik, who is comfortable in the centre of defence and midfield, has recovered to be included in the 23-strong squad for the December 2 (AEDT) and December 6 (AEDT) matches in British Columbia.
McNamara, 20, was most recently in the Matildas squad in April, but has forced her way back in with women’s A-League form that has included four goals.
Luik and McNamara return at the expense of the injured Cortnee Vine (hamstring) and the dropped Alex Chidiac.
Australia’s squad also includes uncapped Brighton attacker Charlize Rule, who has been elevated from her “train-on player” status for the recent Olympic Games qualifiers.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said the matches against familiar foes Canada, the reigning Olympic gold medallists, would serve as good preparations for Australia’s February home-and-away battle with Uzbekistan for a spot in the 2024 Olympic Games women’s football tournament.
“We know plenty about Canada with some fierce battles over the past 18 months,” Gustavsson said.
“These final 180 minutes of the year against a nation that has already qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are the type of preparation matches that are invaluable for the players.
“Our selected squad continues to meld established performers with some new players that have impressed in their league form recently.
“The two matches will allow us to continue evolving our play heading into the final phase of Olympic qualification and beyond against a challenging opponent.
“It is critical to our continued growth as a team and for the players to test ourselves against quality nations.”
Matildas: Mackenzie Arnold, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Katrina Gorry, Charlotte Grant, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Sam Kerr, Aivi Luik, Holly McNamara, Teagan Micah, Courtney Nevin, Clare Polkinghorne,
Hayley Raso, Charlize Rule. Amy Sayer, Emily van Egmond, Clare Wheeler, Lydia Williams, Tameka Yallop.
Originally published as Holly McNamara and Aivi Luik recalled to the Matildas squad for two-match series against Canada