Japanese international Chinatsu Kira will make her W-League debut on Sunday against Canberra United, while captain Emma Checker is still a few weeks away.
While injuries to several players may have fast-tracked Kira’s selection, her presence is expected to provide a calming influence over this new-look Melbourne City outfit.
The attacking-midfielder comes in with a wealth of experience having made over 140 appearances for Urawa Red Diamonds and winning the 2014 Asian Cup with Japan.
Despite the short turnaround between her arrival and selection, head coach Rado Vidosic believes the training she has had with the team in the Australian summer will help her adapt.
‘’We’ll have Kira coming in for this game. She’s just come from Japan, which is in winter, so to train in the hot weather will definitely help her in these future games,’’
Meanwhile Matildas defender and club captain Emma Checker will continue to be cautiously managed by the club. The 24-year-old is recovering from a stress fracture in her fibula which cut her time with French side FC Fleury short, with Vidosic eyeing ‘rounds four or five’ for her return.
‘’Emma is now doing two days on two days off,’’ he said.
‘’We’re slowly bringing her in and we do believe maybe rounds four or five she should be able to start being considered for the team. We can’t rush her in because it may be a little difficult to predict how that injury will respond.
‘’We have three great defenders and we’re very happy with how they’re progressing so we’ll give Emma every opportunity to get back fully fit.’’
City’s back three – which consisted of Samantha Johnson, Tori Tumeth and Matilda Jenna McCormick – are expected to have their hands full with Michelle Heyman, who announced her return to football with a hattrick in Canberra’s 4-3 win over Adelaide.
The hattrick takes Heyman’s W-League tally to 66 and just four goals shy of Sam Kerr’s 70 – the W-League record.
‘’Those last few minutes were unbelievable and Michelle Heyman showed how good of a player she still is,’’ Vidosic said.
‘’If you leave her unmarked, she knows where the goal is and will be a difference in the W-League. A big part of our plan will be about how we can stop her, obviously she is not the only one who can score but when someone scores three the week before you take notice.’’
Canberra United host Melbourne City at Viking Park on Sunday 3 January.