Young gun Mary Fowler is adamant she’s a better player for her first Women’s World Cup experience as teammate Caitlin Foord hailed the “future of the Matildas”.
Sam Kerr’s calf injury meant that bar missing the defeat to Nigeria, Fowler, who attended the 2019 tournament as a teenager without playing, stepped up into a key starting role.
The 20-year-old scored one goal against Canada and provided Foord with a magnificent assist against Denmark while clearly emerging as a future star, despite, like her teammates, tiring as the tournament went on.
“I have definitely improved. I’ve been fortunate to play so many minutes at this tournament,” Fowler told reporters after the 2-0 third-place play-off loss to Sweden.
“It is a World Cup so it is the best level you can get.
“So I definitely feel that as a player I have been able to step up a bit more and see how I am on the world stage, which has been quite fun actually.”
Getting more game time at Manchester City is clearly the next crucial step for the level-headed youngster.
“Mary is so mature for her age. She is well above anyone else,” Foord said.
“With the skill and talent she has, she is an incredible player now. She will keep building and keep learning.
“She is the future of the Matildas.”
The development of young players gives veteran defender Clare Polkinghorne reason to believe.
When asked about the prospect of retirement after her fifth World Cup, the 34-year-old said: “I don’t think so.”
“Obviously I didn’t have the most ideal preparation for this World Cup and hopefully I can get some solid football and be and be ready for the qualifiers in the Olympics.
“We’ve got a lot of players that are going to be here for a long time and hopefully we can keep developing players and have more Clare Hunts come through, more Ellie Carpenters, more Cortnee Vines.
“We need more of them coming through, they’ve been outstanding.”
Coach Tony Gustavsson expected to have a largely stable group of players pushing for Olympic qualifiers, which start with games against Taiwan, Iran and the Philippines in Perth in October.
“A lot of these players are keen on staying for another major tournament together and I have no signals or any players (talking) about retirement or anything,”he said.
“I have a good mix of experience and young players which can be an advantage as well, to have some continuity in the roster going from one tournament to another.
“It’s a very short turnaround but I’m excited with the talent knocking on the door in the extended roster.”
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