Elise Kellond-Knight competes for the ball in Australia's World Cup opener against Italy. Picture: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
Elise Kellond-Knight competes for the ball in Australia's World Cup opener against Italy. Picture: Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Knight ready to ride to Matildas’ aid

IF there's reason to believe against Brazil, it's the potential return of Australia's most-steadying midfield presence.

And Elise Kellond-Knight has declared herself ready to start Thursday's must-win Women's World Cup showdown.

Compounding the Matildas' recent woes has been the absence of the defensive midfielder, the team's unsung and a member of FIFA's All-Star Team for both the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.

 

Kellond-Knight's recent limited minutes for Seattle Reign in the National Women's Soccer League meant she pulled up sore from the intense training during Matildas camp in Turkey.

The 28-year-old has been in and out of team training as she recovers and, just as she was missed against the Netherlands last week, her omission from Ante Milicic's starting XI that imploded against Italy was keenly felt.

But the veteran of 107 caps said she'd pulled up well from her 10-minute run off the bench.

"I've had a bit of a rollercoaster last couple of months in terms of game time for various circumstances, and then getting an unfortunate hamstring injury just before we were to come into Turkey," Kellond-Knight said.

"So I had that and then I arrived in Turkey and then had a calf injury, so it's just been back to back.

The Matildas training in Valenciennes. Picture: FFA
The Matildas training in Valenciennes. Picture: FFA

"But personally I feel great now, I'm ready to go. I would have played 90 (minutes) if I was allowed, it's just the medical staff holding me back now."

Milicic gave no guarantee Kellond-Knight would feature in his starting line-up, having already expressed reluctance to risk a key player so early in the tournament.

"We will do the review and see how she pulls up," Milicic said.

"It's a difficult one when you have got a muscle injury, to take a risk in the first game.

"She has never had a scenario where she was able to start the game, but she was one we wanted to give some minutes and hopefully she has pulled up okay and is available to play a little bit more in the second game against Brazil."

Kellond-Knight also hit back at accusations of complacency against Italy.

Ante Milicic offers instructions to Matildas captain Sam Kerr. Picture: Getty
Ante Milicic offers instructions to Matildas captain Sam Kerr. Picture: Getty

"In my books no," she said.

"Because I've watched them, I've played with a couple of their players. I know how far Italy have come in the last few years, let alone just this year.

"So for me I knew they were a good team, it was probably going to be the hardest game of our group. Equal to Brazil.

"The thing about Brazil is we're familiar with them. The thing about Italy is we haven't played them for a number of years and they've progressed so much since the last time we've played them.

"So having that unknown factor was also pretty hard."

News Corp Australia


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