(Reuters) – Midfielder Julie Ertz made a surprise return to the United States squad on Tuesday for their final two international friendlies ahead of the Women’s World Cup this summer, following an extended absence after she gave birth to her first child.
The April 8 and April 11 matches against Ireland represent the last chance for players to show they deserve a ticket to Australia and New Zealand, where the defending champions begin their quest for an unprecedented third consecutive title.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski previously cautioned that Ertz, two-times U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, was running out of time to make the cut, as she has yet to sign with a team this season after giving birth in August.
It will be the first time the 30-year-old has played in a professional capacity since the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (in 2021), where the U.S. came away with bronze.
Also returning to the fold is defender Casey Krueger, who gave birth in July, and forward Sophia Smith, the 2022 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year who was sidelined earlier this year due to injury.
“It’s exciting to get the group back together and we’re getting closer to how we want to look this summer,” said Andonovski in a statement.
“The team is gelling and getting these players back in camp, all who know the environment very well, is just going to make it more competitive and turn the intensity up a notch.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Christian Radnedge)
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Source: The Print