Elise Kellond-Knight has returned to the Matildas squad after struggling with a knee injury in the 2-0 win over Thailand.
The 32-year-old, who has not played since qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics in March 2020, was brought on by Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson in the final 10 minutes and emerged unscathed.
Kellond-Knight’s return came after a tough two-and-a-half years on the sidelines after she tore her hamstring while playing in Sweden in July 2020. She was selected in the Matildas’ squad for Tokyo but did not play a minute. after suffering from knee pain, which led to more operations and a longer rehabilitation process.
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Kellond-Knight admitted after her successful return that she thought her career might have been limited by her knee problems.
“It’s been a long journey but it’s been worth it to be back out there with the girls,” she said.
“It was only 10 minutes but it’s a big milestone and we’re all going to celebrate it together.
“It was a complicated injury. There were times when I thought I would never play football again, so to get the green and gold now is a massive achievement.”
The veteran was selected for the 2011 and 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and admits she is eyeing a place in Gustavsson’s squad for next year’s World Cup.
“I’m open to everything. I’m taking it one day at a time and it would definitely be nice,” she said of a potential World Cup berth.
Gustavsson was clearly touched when he discussed Kellond Knight’s return after the game.
“I’m so happy for (Kellond-Knight) and the team is so happy for her, too,” he said.
“What a journey. What she’s been through could have been a career-ending turning point for her and now she’s back with the national team playing minutes.
“I get emotional just talking about it.”
Kellond-Knight’s return capped what was a successful outing for the Matildas, who ended the calendar year with four straight wins.
Kerr puts the Matildas ahead
Australia dominated throughout the contest and missed a couple of golden chances in the first half, before Sam Kerr nodded in a stunning header from a corner.
Haley Raso added another goal barely a minute into the second half.
Kerr admitted she and her teammates need to be more clinical.
“It’s definitely nice to finish on a high, four wins in a row after a difficult year. We feel good, but ready for next year,” she said.
“We need to get better in that part (finishing in front of goal), so it’s a good challenge. We need to be better, but these are the challenges we want.”
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