Matildas boosted by Carpenter return for April friendlies

Women's Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Paris St Germain v Olympique Lyonnais
Soccer Football - Women's Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Paris St Germain v Olympique Lyonnais - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - April 30, 2022 Olympique Lyonnais' Ellie Carpenter applauds fans after the match REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

March 23 (Reuters) - Ellie Carpenter is set for her first Matildas appearance in a year after the defender was recalled to the squad for next month's friendlies against Scotland and England, 10 months after she sustained an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Carpenter, who has 57 caps, last played for Australia in April 2022. She ruptured the ACL in her right knee while playing for Olympique Lyonnais in the Women's Champions League final last May.

The 22-year-old returned to competitive action in February with Lyon in a timely boost for the Matildas ahead of the July 20-Aug. 20 Women's World Cup, which Australia will co-host with New Zealand.

"Being away from the national team for so long, it gives you that extra drive and that extra hunger to get back in," Carpenter said on Thursday. "I feel stronger, faster, better than before... I feel like a refreshed Ellie.

"It's a World Cup year. That was a massive motivation for me throughout my injury, to keep thinking that there is such a big goal at the end of this. I really want to be there with the team to help achieve our goals."

Coach Tony Gustavsson named a 24-player squad on Thursday to face Scotland on April 7 and England four days later, with both matches to be played in London.

Melbourne City forward Holly McNamara, who has three caps, also returned to the team after recovering from an ACL injury but vice captain Steph Catley was ruled out of both matches after sustaining a foot injury while training with Arsenal.

Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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