Matilda won’t be rushed back by Victory

Melbourne Victory won’t rush Courtney Nevin straight back into A-League Women’s duty despite Australia’s early Asian Cup exit, but will welcome new signing Brooke Hendrix straight into their squad to face Wellington.

Victory travel to face Wellington at WIN Stadium on Friday but coach Jeff Hopkins has opted to rest Nevin, who was part of the Matildas squad knocked out of the Asian Cup by South Korea in the quarter-finals last Sunday.

With Kyra Cooney-Cross suspended after her sending off in a 4-2 loss to Brisbane before departing on international duty, it means the ALW champions will face the last-placed Phoenix without either of the Matildas’ representatives in the Victory’s first game since January 16.

“Kyra couldn’t serve a suspension through the FIFA window … so she won’t be available and we decided not to include Courtney just to give her a few days to recover from the trip back,” Hopkins said.

“She got back quite late … with the amount of games we’ve got coming up over the next couple of weeks we decided it would be better for her to add her to the squad nice and fresh for the Newcastle game on Tuesday.”

Victory have struggled to fill the void left by a round one ACL injury to captain and star defender Kayla Morrison.

American centre-back Hendrix, 28, joins from NWSL club Racing Louisville but previously represented West Ham, Brescia, FC Staad in Switzerland and Fylkir in Iceland.

“Brooke fits the shape of the type of player we require to continue to push for the title this season and will fill an important gap left by the injury of Kayla Morrison,” Hopkins said.

“Her experience across the globe matched with her physical prowess and ability to command the defensive line is something we’re really looking forward to see her bring to the team.”

Victory’s near three-week wait for a game following their 1-0 win over Western Sydney has allowed Adelaide and Perth to push above Hopkins’ team into the top four, albeit having played two games more.

Winless Wellington meanwhile were left heartbroken after two late goals resulted in a 3-2 defeat to the Glory on Monday, but Hopkins says that performance shows the Phoenix are improving dramatically in their inaugural ALW campaign.

“We’re definitely not underestimating them,” he said.

“It’s going to be a tough game, especially for the first maybe 15-20 minutes where we might be a little bit ring rusty until we settle down to the pace of the game.”