Matildas replace Alleway, sweat on Fowler

Veteran Matildas defender Laura Alleway has been withdrawn from the Women's World Cup, with uncapped 18-year-old Karly Roestbakken coming into the squad.

LAURA ALLEWAY of Melbourne City controls the ball during the W-League match between the Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City FC at Coffs Harbour International Stadium in Coffs Harbour, Australia.
LAURA ALLEWAY of Melbourne City controls the ball during the W-League match between the Newcastle Jets and Melbourne City FC at Coffs Harbour International Stadium in Coffs Harbour, Australia. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

The Matildas have been encouraged by scan results on Mary Fowler after the wonder-teen suffered a hamstring injury in training ahead of the World Cup.

While the 16-year-old skipped training on Friday (AEST), and is unlikely to feature in Sunday's tournament opener with Italy, Australian officials aren't looking to replace her in their squad.

That unfortunate fate befell Laura Alleway on Thursday, with the defender unable to play through the pain of a foot injury.

Alleway, 29, has been replaced by uncapped teenager Karly Roestbakken.

Thankfully for coach Ante Milicic, Fowler looks set to stay on despite going down in training on Thursday complaining of hamstring tightness.

Fowler, the youngest player at the World Cup, was whisked down the race for treatment and played no further part in the session.

Coach Ante Milicic missed the incident, saying he turned around and "saw her on the side with an ice pack".

"Apparently it's just precaution. She felt something on the hamstring. I'm not going to risk a 16-year-old kid," he said.

On Friday, she walked two laps of the team's training pitch in Saint Amand-les-Eaux and disappeared.

Elise Kellond-Knight, another injury concern for the Italy clash, also kept her sneakers on and walked laps.

Teammate Alanna Kennedy downplayed Fowler's injury.

"She's perfectly fine. It's just you've got to be careful coming into a tournament like this," she said.

While Fowler's prognosis is not yet known, Alleway's withdrawal is a major blow.

Milicic now has just two central defenders at his disposal - Kennedy and Clare Polkinghorne, with vice captain Steph Catley, now the only credible fill-in.

As a left-back, Roestbakken is not a like-for-like replacement, but the Canberra United 18-year-old now has the chance of a lifetime to debut on the sport's biggest stage.

"She trained really well," Kennedy reported of Roestbakken.

"She's really come in and stamped her authority as best she's can ... she's really done a good job so far. I'm really excited for her."

Roestbakken plays in the W-League and Young Matildas as a full-back.

Australian officials kept Alleway's injury - a possible stress fracture - quiet over the past week, saying she had simply been stepped on at training.

Privately, they were more concerned, flying out Roestbakken on Monday as a precaution.

The 29-year-old had scans in both Turkey and Eindhoven, and was given until Thursday morning to prove her fitness as a FIFA deadline for squad registration loomed.

"I feel for her," Milicic said.

"We gave her every possibility to make herself fit and available.

"I'm always optimistic ... it was right to give her every chance because it's such a big tournament and she put so much work in.

"In the end it was too much pain."

Milicic said he hoped to have Kellond-Knight available for Sunday's match in Valenciennes.

"If she's available for selection that'll be a huge plus," Milicic said.


AAP