What to watch for: Canberra v City

The Liberty A-League season is just around the corner, with Rado Vidosic’s squad taking on Canberra United in its season opener on Friday night.

With plenty of new signings and a big pre-season now in the books, there’s no doubt City will be looking to climb up the ladder this season. Here’s what to keep an eye out for on Friday night:

Who makes it into a new-look starting lineup?

Following a ninth-placed finish in 2020/21, the ensuing off-season was a big one in terms of recruitment for City, with the club bringing in a number of talented players – both experienced and up-and-coming – to create competition for positions in the starting XI.

There are few individuals amongst the squad who aren’t facing stiff competition for their spot in the starting lineup, perhaps apart from Captain Emma Checker, club legend Rebekah Stott and New Zealand international Hannah Wilkinson upfront.

Such squad depth and subsequent selection headaches are both positive dilemmas for any team to have, but it no doubt will leave fans on edge in the leadup to the release of Vidosic’s first team sheet for the new season.

Which of City’s youngsters will make the step up?

As mentioned earlier, many of City’s new recruits are youngsters with exciting potential and recent involvement with Australia’s national teams at youth representative level.

13 of City’s entire 20-player squad are aged 21 or younger, and many will act as key cogs in Vidosic’s system throughout the 2021/22 season.

With several of City’s starting lineup against Canberra set to be in that youthful age bracket, it will be interesting to see which of our younger contingent emerge as leaders with their performance on the pitch and the roles that others fit into as they complement the system overall.

Stotty’s Melbourne City return

As she documented in a recent social media post, it will have been 622 days since Rebekah Stott last turned out in the City blue when she takes to the field against Canberra United on Friday.

In the time since, Stott has played against some of the biggest teams in the world during her time with Brighton & Hove Albion in the FAWSL, been diagnosed with and subsequently recovered from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and made the entire footballing world proud of the way she became an inspiration to others, doing it all with a smile.

Her return to the pitch for City in Round 1 will bring her story full circle and we can’t wait to see the kind of player and leader that she’s become since she last represented the club.