MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia coach Ante Milicic has backed 16-year-old forward Mary Fowler to shine at next month’s World Cup in France after picking her in an otherwise experienced squad.
Queenslander Fowler, who was also eligible to play for Ireland through her father, has been capped only four times for the ‘Matildas’ but impressed Milicic enough that she can thrive on the game’s biggest stage.
Experienced campaigners Lisa De Vanna, Clare Polkinghorne, and Lydia Williams head to their fourth World Cups, while striker-captain Sam Kerr, Laura Alleway, Caitlin Foord, Elise Kellond-Knight, Emily van Egmond and Tameka Yallop go to their third.
“This is a special group of Australian footballers because, as a unit, they have accumulated a wealth of international experience despite the average age of the team being quite young,” Milicic said in a media release.
“Having players that have appeared at multiple FIFA Women’s World Cups in our squad will help to guide the eight players travelling to their first Women’s World Cup, and I believe we will have genuine competition for starting positions across all areas of the pitch.”
Quarter-finalists at the last World Cup in Canada, world number six Australia have been drawn to play Italy, Brazil and Jamaica.
Australia play their tournament-opener against Italy on June 9.
Milicic has added two reserve players — the injured Kyah Simon and Kyra Cooney-Cross — to join the squad in Europe prior to the tournament on standby.
Goalkeepers - Lydia Williams, Teagan Micah, Mackenzie Arnold
Defenders - Gema Simon, Clare Polkinghorne, Laura Alleway, Stephanie Catley, Alanna Kennedy, Ellie Carpenter, Teigen Allen
Midfielders - Katrina Gorry, Amy Harrison, Elise Kellond-Knight, Chloe Logarzo, Aivi Luik, Emily van Egmond, Tameka Yallop.
Forwards - Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Sam Kerr, Hayley Raso.
Reserves: Kyah Simon, Kyra Cooney-Cross
Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Rory Carroll