Sydney FC announce return of star midfielder after WSL stint: Full details

Mackenzie Hawkesby has returned to Sydney FC after the reigning Liberty A-League champions agreed a transfer with WSL side Brighton & Hove Albion.

Hawkesby joins the club for the remainder of the 2023-24 season, after initially leaving the Sky Blues for Brighton at the end of last campaign.

The midfielder played an integral role in winning the double, scoring six goals to go with five assists, before jetting over to the UK where she struggled for game time during her time at the Seagulls.

In an added boost, Hawkesby has been added to Sydney’s squad ahead of tonight’s clash against third-placed Wellington Phoenix at Allianz Stadium.

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“It feels great. Sydney is my home and I love the Sky Blues. It’s really good to be back,” she said.

“I’m delighted and excited to be returning to Sydney FC and I am looking forward to getting some match minutes under my belt.

“I can’t wait to get started and to help the girls defend both our titles.

“There is a long way to go this season, we aren’t even a third of the way through, and I am thrilled that I have a chance to make a big contribution to our final season position.”

Hawkesby initially joined Sydney in 2019 after starting her career at Western Sydney Wanderers. In the ensuing seasons, the midfielder became a key part of Ante Juric’s side, helping Sydney win three consecutive Liberty A-League Premierships to go with last season’s Championship.

She went on to win Sydney FC’s Player of the Year award in 2022 and finished joint-third in the Julie Dolan Medal rankings.

Despite not featuring for Brighton, Hawkesby believes she managed to get a lot out of her experience in England.

“I was able to develop as a player, but I felt like for me in this moment in time, it was the right time to come home and get more match minutes and help the team,” she said.

“I was able to watch a lot of players from different teams from Arsenal to Manchester City and also played with some top quality players in Brighton.

“I’m able to take a lot of experiences from that to here, and I’ve gained a lot of resilience and I’m very excited to be back and to be playing football because that’s mainly what I want to do.

“Sydney’s home to me and I wanted to make sure that I was getting match minutes and playing and doing whatever I can to get better.”

Juric said he’s pleased to welcome Hawkesby back, with her arrival set to bolster their midfield stocks significantly.

“Mackenzie has been one of the standout performers in the Liberty A-League over the past three or four seasons, and we are very pleased to have her back on board,” Juric said.

“She has so much quality and it’s a huge boost for our squad to have her ready to go for the rest of the season.”

Hawkesby returns with Sydney sitting in sixth place heading into Round 10, but the Sky Blues still have two games in hand on the sides immediately above them on the ladder.

The star midfielder, however, remains confident the Sky Blues can scale up the ladder in the weeks and months ahead as they chase more silverware.

“The level, the standard is getting better,” she said.

“There’s a lot of overseas playing coming over to play, obviously post World Cup and obviously having Cortnee (Vine) here is huge.

“I think that it’s getting better and better and I’m obviously very happy to be coming back and proud to be a part of this club.

“We’re in a pretty good place at the moment and there’s a lot of points to to catch up in January.

“Hopefully I can just help out the team in any way I can. I’m a winner and I love winning.

“The past two to three years, we’ve won a lot and I want to hopefully bring that to the team and get us over the line at the end of the season and have more silverware.”