City set to welcome back high-powered trio in ALW

The rich are getting richer in the A-League Women, with top-of-the-table Melbourne City set to welcome back a trio of highly-credentialed reinforcements for their Tuesday evening clash with Perth Glory at AAMI Park. 

Matildas’ defenders Emma Checker and Karly Roestbakken, and New Zealand international striker Hannah Wilkson have all been named in coach Dario Vidosic’s squad for their meeting with the West Australians, which has been rescheduled to kick off at 8:15pm at AAMI Park to avoid extreme heat.

Melbourne City striker Hannah Wilkinson is set to return from injury against Perth Glory

Already on the comeback trail from a long-term injury, Checker has missed City’s last two games – a loss to Western United and a win over Canberra United – with illness. Signed during the offseason, Roestbakken is now in line to make her debut for her new side after overcoming a persistent foot injury. 

Last season’s Golden Boot winner, Wilkinson, per Vidosic, is almost certain to make her first appearance on the campaign after recovering from a quadriceps injury. 

Though the Kiwi’s return does mean the end of Maria Jose Rojas’ injury replacement contract at Casey Fields, City is not set to be without the services of the attacker, who has four goals and two assists in five matches this season, for a significant period of time. 

After attending a training camp with the Chilean national team ahead of their World Cup qualifiers in New Zealand in February, the 35-year-old will return to Melbourne and continue to train until she can formally replace Emina Ekic when her loan from Racing Louisville ends in mid-February.

“With us, it’s business as usual. We’ve got good depth. We might look to make a few changes, we’ll have a look at how everyone has pulled up – we have to take care of everyone. There are some that have run big numbers in Canberra, that pushed themselves. We’re trying to get minutes into everyone because in the next block we’ve got three games in six days. We’ve been given the hardest schedule there but it is what it is and we prepare for that we need a whole squad, not just 11 players. 

Tuesday’s coming four days after their win over Canberra, City will have an extended break after their clash with the Glory – not playing Western Sydney Wanderers until January eight. 

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That game, however, will be followed by two three-day turnarounds in quick succession, meaning Vidosic recognises the importance of getting more bodies back, and more minutes into his whole squad’s legs. 

“We’ve got good depth, we might look to make a few changes, we’ll have a look at how everyone has pulled up – we have to take care of everyone,” said Vidosic. “There are some that have run big numbers in Canberra, that pushed themselves. 

“We’re trying to get minutes into everyone because in the next block we’ve got three games in six days. We’ve been given the hardest schedule there, but it is what it is: to prepare for that we need a whole squad, not just 11 players. 

“Wilkinson more than likely will play tomorrow night. And then with Checker, we’ll see, because she was sick for quite a while. She missed a lot of training in that time. 

“We’ll make a decision today with how everyone feels and we’ll see what the best thing is to do about the balance of the squad.”

Perth, meanwhile, needs to manage a headache born of fixture congestion themselves: set to follow up Tuesday’s game against City at home to Western United on New Year’s Day and then return to Victoria to face Melbourne Victory on Jan. 6. 

Coach Alex Epakis’ side stormed back from a two-goal deficit to down Canberra United 3-2 last weekend, securing their first win of the season.

“They want to have the ball. I’ve analysed them throughout the week and their last couple of games. We know where they can be strong,” Vidosic said of Perth. 

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne City


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