Nix ALW Stars In NZ Squad As Ferns Return Home At Last

From Wellington Phoenix (31/10/22)

Above: The Football Ferns are heading home to play internationals for the first time in four years. Photo: Friends of Football.

Five Wellington Phoenix players have been named in the New Zealand squad for the two homecoming internationals against South Korea during the November international window.

Betsy Hassett, Paige Satchell, Kate Taylor, and Mackenzie Barry have kept their places in the 24-strong national squad, while Junior Football Ferns midfielder Grace Wisnewski has been selected for the first time.

Wisnewski was an integral member of the Phoenix women’s side in their inaugural season, playing the full 90 minutes in each of the 11 matches she started.

She missed three games for mental health reasons, cutting short her stay in Wollongong to return to New Zealand when the borders opened.

Wisnewski returned to football after a mental health break and started all three of the Junior Football Ferns’ group matches at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica in August, scoring their opening goal of the tournament against Mexico.

“Grace has been a consistent performer in the A-League and at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. I always saw her as an aggressive defender, but in the World Cup environment she also showed how dangerous she is going forward, especially against Colombia,” Football Ferns coach Jitka Klimková said.

“I also want to commend Grace on her bravery in talking about her challenges at the end of the A-League season.

Above: Wellington Phoenix young star Grace Wisnewski has received her first call up to the senior Football Ferns Squad. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.

“After taking a few months out before the World Cup in Costa Rica she has come back so much stronger, and can be a great role model for other young players coming through.”

Off-season recruits Hassett and Satchell have been first-choice players since Klimková took charge and both started the recent friendly against Japan.

Hassett is the country’s fourth most-capped international footballer, with the midfielder having represented New Zealand at three Olympic Games and the last three FIFA Women’s World Cups.

Pacy forward Satchell has played more than 30 times for the Ferns and has established herself in Klimková’s starting XI over the past year.

Taylor and Barry both broke into the national squad this year after being mainstays at the heart of the Phoenix defence in the 2021-22 A-League Women.

Taylor made her Football Ferns debut against Norway in June before going on to lead the Junior Football Ferns at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Costa Rica. Barry had to wait to make her senior bow, but did so against Japan earlier this month.

The two matches against South Korea are the Ferns’ first in Aotearoa in four years.

Both internationals are in Christchurch, with the first on Saturday, November 12, and the second three days later on Tuesday night.

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