Blow for Matildas as key defender sidelined –

Manchester City defender Alanna Kennedy is injured and will miss Australia’s series against the USA.

The Matildas’ hopes of beating the USA have suffered a setback, with star defender Alanna Kennedy set to be ruled out of the two-game series with a quad injury.

England-based Kennedy, who plies her trade for Manchester City, suffered the injury last week but still returned home for what is a crucial Matildas camp ahead of the January-February Asian Cup in India.

“I’m happy to be here with the team and hopefully get myself back on track over the next couple of weeks,” Kennedy said.

“I think any opportunity to be around the team is good. The time that we have together is limited, so it’s important to have; the players here and I obviously really appreciate being included in this and hopefully pushing myself back to full fitness.

“Definitely we’ll still get something out of the camp and hopefully be back on the field soon.”

While Kennedy is set to be sidelined, returning from injury against the USA after missing last month’s two-game series against Brazil is attacking pair Emily Gielnik and Hayley Raso.

Aston Villa forward Gielnik is desperate for time on the park after recovering from a toe injury.

“It feels so damn good to be back in Australia,” Gielnik said ahead of Saturday night’s series opener at Stadium Australia.

“The last time I was in Australia was probably almost over a year ago now, so I haven’t seen my family and I’m missing my friends.

“I’m finally back with the girls where I want to be, back in Australia, and I’m on the mend so things are looking promising.

“I’m just honestly buzzing to be putting the football boots back on and be back on the green grass. That’s all I really care about right now.”

Raso, a teammate of Kennedy’s at Manchester City, is returning from a shoulder injury.

“It’s great to be back on home soil,” Raso said.

“I’ve missed a few camps because of injuries, so it’s good to be back among the girls.

Raso has brought goalscoring form home with her, having netted twice after coming on as a substitute in City’s 5-0 weekend thrashing of Gielnik’s Villa.

“I hadn’t been playing that much, so it was nice to get on the park and get a good few minutes in the tank,” the former Brisbane Roar winger said.

“To top it off with two goals is always nice.”

Raso said the Matildas were keen to renew their rivalry with the USA – the world’s top-ranked women’s team.

The Americans hold the current bragging rights, having beaten the Australians 4-3 in the battle for the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics women’s football tournament.

“There is a bit of a rivalry. I wouldn’t so much say it’s revenge, but we do want to get one up on them,” Raso said.

“We want to win the game, and we also want to prepare for what’s coming.”