Matildas squad hit by injury

The Matildas squad has been hit by injury ahead of Sunday’s Beijing Olympic qualifier against Chinese Taipei with striker Jenna Tristram and midfielder Danielle Small forced to withdraw from the 18-strong touring party.

The Matildas squad has been hit by injury ahead of Sunday-s Beijing Olympic qualifier against Chinese Taipei with striker Jenna Tristram and midfielder Danielle Small forced to withdraw from the 18-strong touring party.

Coffs Harbour local Tristram injured her knee at training the day after last Saturday-s match against Hong Kong and scans yesterday revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament ruling the 20-year-old out of contention for September-s FIFA Women-s World Cup in China.

Sydney-based Small is also suffering from a knee injury though less serious with the veteran of 38-appearances for Australia set to be available for June-s crucial home and away qualifying matches against DPR (North) Korea. Both players featured as substitutes in Saturday-s 15-0 rout of Hong Kong in the opening Group B match at the BCU International Stadium in Coffs Harbour.

Coach Tom Sermanni is already without the services of key players in midfielder Sally Shipard (foot) and striker Caitlin Munoz (knee) though both are expected to also be available for the June matches.

Returning to the squad for the first time since November-s Peace Cup in Korea is pacy striker Lisa DeVanna who has spent the last few months playing in England with Doncaster Belles. Defender Clare Polkinghorne has also been added to the squad traveling to Chinese Taipei.

“It is obviously disruptive on a number of levels for the squad to have these injuries but on the positive side we now have good depth and are more prepared for such eventualities," said Matildas Coach Tom Sermanni.

“It is of course highly unfortunate for Jenna and the timing of the injury makes it even harder to accept given she has just made her national team debut in her home town. Jenna has the makings of a really good player with genuine speed, a nose for goal and she is also starting to adapt to the rigours of what is required physically at senior level. Jenna has a good attitude and I have full confidence she will return and stake a strong claim for selection once again."

The Matildas squad for the Olympic qualifying match in Chinese Taipei on Sunday is:

Goalkeepers - Melissa Barbieri (Melbourne), Lydia Williams (Canberra)

Defenders - Di Alagich (Sydney), Kim Carroll (Brisbane), Rhian Davies (Sydney), Heather Garriock (Sydney), Kate McShea (Brisbane), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane), Karla Reuter (Newcastle), Cheryl Salisbury (Newcastle), Thea Slatyer (Sydney)

Midfielders - Joanne Burgess (Sydney), Lauren Colthorpe (Newcastle), Collette McCallum (Perth), Joanne Peters (Newcastle)

Forwards - Lisa DeVanna (Perth), Kate Gill (Newcastle), Sarah Walsh (Sydney) (* current home city)

The squad will depart today and return to Australia next Tuesday.

Australia are grouped with seeded team DPR Korea (North Korea) as well as Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei. DPR Korea defeated Chinese Taipei 8-0 in the other group match played in Pyongyang on Saturday.

The other qualifying group consists of seeded-team Japan, plus Korea Republic, Thailand and Vietnam.

The qualifying matches will be held between April and August with only the top team in each group to progress to the 2008 Olympic Games.

DPR Korea are Asia-s highest ranked team listed at 5 on the FIFA Women-s World Rankings, while Australia are now ranked at an all-time high of 14.

Australia easily navigated through the first stage of qualifying in February defeating Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Chinese Taipei.

Australia was eliminated in the group stage after qualifying as host nation in 2000, while three years ago in Greece the team narrowly failed to reach the medal round losing 2-1 in their quarter final against Sweden. Australia did not qualify for the initial women-s Olympic football tournament in 1996.

Australia have already qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women-s World Cup also to be held in China, September 10-30.

FIXTURES Australia v Hong Kong Saturday 7 April, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

Chinese Taipei v Australia Sunday 15 April, 4pm Chungshan Stadium, Kaohslung, Chinese Taipei

DPR Korea v Australia Sunday 3 June Venue TBC

Australia v North Korea Sunday 10 June, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

Hong Kong v Australia Saturday 4 August Venue TBC

Australia v Chinese Taipei Sunday 12 August, 3pm BCU International Stadium, Coffs Harbour

TV SBS will have LIVE coverage of the team-s matches against DPR Korea on Sunday 10 June and Chinese Taipei on Sunday 12 August. Both LIVE matches will be shown as “The World Game” weekly Football Feature from 3:00pm.