There are less Matildas than ever in the W-League season but decorated Melbourne Victory recruit Lisa De Vanna said there’s an opportunity for a new generation of footballers to make their mark.
Many senior Matildas are based in Europe and there will be less international players, especially Americans, than in previous years.
De Vanna expected the season to “make or break” young Australians keen to push for the Matildas leading up to the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
“It will be different of course. Take away the internationals which will make it a bit more challenging but I think it’s great,” De Vanna told AAP.
“It’s something that we needed – it just gives now the coaches an opportunity to watch in the best league in Australia, who are the best young players coming out?
“Who can we cherry-pick and make them a Matilda, to build up for the biggest event in (less than) three years’ time?”
De Vanna said identifying and developing fresh talent was crucial to building squad depth and competition for places.
“I think the Matildas team’s a little stale. There’s no competition and I think competition brings the best out of everyone,” she said.
“You look at the US, you look at the Germans and you look at the English team, any player’s replaceable.
“When no one’s safe, you work harder and you’re always walking on eggshells and I think that’s important to have depth because you start to challenge yourself a little bit.”
The season shapes as an unpredictable but competitive one.
Defending champions Melbourne City have been hit hard by departures, but grand finalists Sydney FC have maintained the majority of their squad and look set to be contenders once again.
Brisbane Roar have benefited from the return of Matildas Clare Polkinghorne, Emily Gielnik and Katrina Gorry from stints in Europe, while Tameka Yallop has also signed on.
Meanwhile, Victory are out to break a championship drought that stretches back to when De Vanna played a crucial role in their 2013-14 triumph.
“Of course I’ll bring something – whatever it is,” De Vanna said.
“It’s a goal for us to win the championship and the minor premiership of course.
“But the hard hit-out now is our first game, getting the ball rolling, so let’s see (where we go) from that.”
The W-League season kicks off on Tuesday when the Roar host City at Redcliffe after late changes to the fixture due to Sydney’s coronavirus cluster.
The Western Sydney Wanderers were originally slated to kick off the season on Sunday against Victory before that match was changed be to against Sydney FC.
However on Wednesday, organisers again shuffled the fixture, putting the Sydney derby back to December 30 as part of a double-header at Bankwest Stadium with the Wanderers’ A-League fixture against Macarthur FC.
Canberra hosts Adelaide United in the early game next Wednesday while Victory will travel to Western Australia to face Perth Glory later that day.