Canberra captain to make international debut

Canberra United captain Ellie Brush will get her dream wish and is set to make her debut for the Westfield Matildas in front of her home fans when they play Italy in the 2nd game of their international series at Canberra Stadium.

Canberra United captain Ellie Brush will get her dream wish and is set to make her debut for the Westfield Matildas in front of her home fans when they play Italy in the 2nd game of their international series at Canberra Stadium.

Brush was one of the success stories of the recently completed Westfield W-League competition, leading the team to the inaugural Grand Final, where they were beaten by Queensland Roar.

Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni said Brush would certainly make her debut and is 95% of starting the match, as long as some niggling injuries don-t disrupt his planned starting eleven.

“That will happen, at this stage,” Sermanni said when asked if Brush would make her debut for the Matildas. “I am thinking she will start, but we-ve just got a couple of little bits and pieces with injuries that we are juggling with at the moment.

“But my intention is to actually start her in the game, so if nothing unforseen happens, she-ll start tomorrow.

“Ellie was one of the W-League successes, without a doubt. If it weren-t for the W-League, Ellie wouldn-t really be getting this opportunity, but she has captained Canberra; played very well throughout the season; looked composed and really impressed me.

“So now is the opportunity to see if she can step up to that extra level, to international level.”

Sermanni will also play Canberra keeper Lydia Williams, while he wait until tomorrow before deciding on whether Caitlin Munoz will also start.

Definitely getting a start and another player who has an affinity with Canberra, with her parents living there, will be captain for the day Jo Peters. The match will also mark the final international match for veteran midfielder, who is lining up for her 110th appearance in the green and gold shirt.

And Sermanni has no doubts that Peters will make it a fond farewell appearance and hopefully lead the Matildas to win, following the first up 2-2 draw in Sydney last weekend.

“I think she is a big occasion player and I think it will be a big game for her to finish on.

“She looks comfortable and relaxed and hopefully she takes that out onto the field. Regardless of how she plays tomorrow, or what the result is, she has been an icon in this game and goes out as a winner.”

One thing that has certainly been on the players and officials minds all week, is the expected hot weather the players will face, with temperatures expected in the high 30-s or even low 40-s around kick-off.

“They are coping okay at the moment,” Sermanni said. “It was warm at training this morning and it-s going to be very hot tomorrow afternoon, so hopefully between now and then, they will rest up, get hydrated and be ready to go.”

Sermanni is fairly confident the team will perform better than in the 2-2 draw at Parramatta Stadium last weekend, where they twice let a goal lead slip to the crafty Italians.

“I think the 2-2 draw was a fair result,” Sermanni said pragmatically. “I think the disappointing thing was to get in front twice and then allow Italy back into the game, but considering we haven-t been together for a long time, it-s probably to be expected that we are a little bit rusty and not quite on the same page as each other all the time.

“I hope so (for improved performance), but again the team will be changed a bit and we-ll give some other players some opportunities in there.

“We-ve got a couple of players that are doubtful with injury and things like that, but I am hopeful; the pitch is in great condition and having been together for an extra week, hopefully we-ll be a bit more cohesive and perform better from the start.

“International football, you are out there to win games and not just to play the game for the sake of it. It-s getting those (good) habits re-established again in the team and it-s probably good at this stage that if you get punished, it-s better now and we can work on them and rectify them.”

Sermanni is also likely to hand Perth Glory teenager Samantha Kerr an international debut, after she played well in a training match against the Italians on Wednesday. The match featured several of the promising Matildas and Sermanni rates Kerr highly.

“Samantha Kerr, I think she is a potential sensational talent. She doesn-t get fazed by who she plays against; she has got pace, impacts games; I think every W-League game I saw her play, she made some kind of impact, whether she scored a goal, created a goal or caused problems for defences.

“She has terrific strength for someone so young and hopefully I will get a chance to put her on tomorrow and give her some game time.”

The Westfield Matildas play Italy at Canberra Stadium on Saturday with kick-off at 4.00pm.