Ellie Carpenter returns to Matildas squad for England, Scotland friendlies

Gustavsson: What he'd do differently & the world catching up with USWNT (4:22)

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson discusses what he'd change about his tenure if he had the chance, and how the women's football world has closed the gap on the U.S. (4:22)

Matildas star Ellie Carpenter will make her international return from an ACL tear in friendlies against Scotland and England, but fellow gun defender Steph Catley has been sidelined indefinitely with a foot injury.

Carpenter last played for Australia in April 2022, before suffering the dreaded knee injury in May's Women's Champions League final.

The 22-year-old successfully returned for Lyon in February and coach Tony Gustavsson hopes to use the powerful right-back "as much as possible" against Scotland on April 7, then European champions England four days later.

But he won't be able to deploy Carpenter and vice-captain Catley in the same back four, just over three months out from July's Women's World Cup on home soil.

Gustavsson wouldn't be drawn on whether Catley's injury put her World Cup hopes in danger but confirmed she and Aston Villa winger Emily Gielnik (ankle sprain) will remain at their clubs to rehabilitate.

"Now when Ellie came back, we're excited about that but Steph isn't available at the same time," Gustavsson said. "It means come June-July we haven't had two of the world's best outside backs together in the team for more than a year, which is obviously far from optimal.

"But it also tests the team, how to deal with challenges.

"When it comes to Steph, it's a non-contact injury in her foot. She's going to come in and see our [medical] team in London when we're there but she's definitely not available for the April camp and maybe some weeks after that.

"When it comes to the World Cup, it's too early to comment. We'll just focus on the April camp and take it from there."

Charli Grant plays left-back at her Swedish club and shapes as Catley's replacement after previously deputising for Carpenter while Leicester City defender Courtney Nevin and utility Tameka Yallop are other options.

A refreshed Carpenter is confident she can quickly find her feet again at international level.

"After my injury I had some good months here with Lyon and building back up my game fitness so I feel ready to put back on the green and gold and play at international level," Carpenter said. "Being away from the national team for so long, it gives you that extra drive and that extra hunger getting back in.

"Obviously it's a World Cup year and obviously that was a massive motivation for me through my injury to keep thinking that there is such a big goal at the end of this and something I really want to achieve."

Dynamic Melbourne City winger Holly McNamara also returns to the 24-player squad after a successful comeback from her own ACL tear.


Goalkeepers: Mackenzie Arnold, Teagan Micah, Jada Whyman, Lydia Williams
Defenders: Ellie Carpenter, Charlotte Grant, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Aivi Luik, Courtney Nevin, Clare Polkinghorne
Midfielders: Alex Chidiac, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Katrina Gorry, Emily van Egmond, Clare Wheeler, Tameka Yallop
Forwards: Larissa Crummer, Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Sam Kerr, Holly McNamara, Hayley Raso, Cortnee Vine