Damning numbers behind Simon’s ‘steep decline’
THIRTEEN minutes in six months.
There was no skirting around Kyah Simon's lack of game time, and coach Ante Milicic says he was left with no choice but to leave the star Matildas forward out of his World Cup squad, bringing her to Turkey on standby only.
Simon was arguably the most recognisable face of Australia's 2015 campaign in Canada, scoring late against Brazil to propel the Matildas into the quarter-finals.
Since the Rio Olympics she's endured a brutal time with injuries, undergoing two shoulder reconstructions in a year, chronic achilles tendinitis and then a torn syndesmosis that required ankle surgery in December.
The painstaking and lonely slog of rehab was all packaged up into hope the 27-year-old be ready to play at a third global showpiece in France next month.
In the end, though, it resulted in 13 minutes on the field for National Women's Soccer League side Houston Dash last month, and none since.
"When I actually look back at all of her match minutes both for club and country from January 2018 she's fallen well short," Milicic said.
"There's been a steep decline there. I think her last full game was in May last year.
"Then she had surgery this year in January. She came back to the field a few weeks ago against North Carolina for 13 minutes - her team was down 4-0 so the pace was out of the game - yet after those 13 minutes she didn't pull up well enough to get more match minutes since that day.
"When I see 13 minutes in six months it's not enough for me.
"At the same time I understand the quality and what she can bring, but it was just my call it was too much of a risk at this stage.
"But I've decided to bring her in because she at least deserves to be brought into the environment and if anything have one eye on the Olympics and try to assist her in getting back to some kind of form and fitness."
There was heartbreak for others too, including Atletico Madrid's Alex Chidiac, whose lack of recent minutes didn't fit Milicic's criteria of form and fitness amid heavy midfield competition.
"There's strong competition in the midfield but in the last couple of weeks she hasn't even been in the match-day squad," he said.
"There's just not enough kilometres in the legs for me. She's young enough and I know she's disappointed, but there's other opportunities for her.
"She has to have a look at her situation at her club and look at playing match minutes because in the end that's most important, particularly for a young footballer."
THE NEAR MISSES
Killed it between the posts with W-League grand finalists Perth Glory and was called up for the Cup of Nations but didn't start a game. US-based youngster Teagan Micah took her place for the US friendly and joins No.1 Lydia Williams and No.2 Mackenzie Arnold in France.
A young, creative midfielder with her career still in front of her, Chidiac moved from Adelaide United to Atletico Madrid last season to lap up Europe's increasing professionalism. The 20-year-old just didn't get quite enough game time, especially up against heavy midfield competition, and Amy Harrison and Aivi Luik were chosen instead.
Set the W-League alight in Sydney FC's title-winning squad last season, so much so veteran Lisa De Vanna found herself on the bench. Minutes at Milicic's first tournament, the Cup of Nations, suggested she was in the frame but the 19-year-old wasn't picked to play the United States last month.
Was brought back into the Matildas set-up by Milicic after several years on the fringes, but though the Sydney FC skipper and reliable holding midfielder played once in the Cup of Nations, the 28-year-old was always on the fringes.
The Sydney FC centre-back appeared set to become the fly in Laura Alleway's ointment when she was called up for the US friendly. But the latter has overcome her niggly injuries, and with Alanna Kennedy and Clare Polkinghorne already locks, space simply ran out.
An experienced campaigner with plenty of goalscoring pedigree who's experienced a genuinely torrid time with injuries over the last two years. Two shoulder reconstructions, achilles tendinitis and an ankle injury have forced her to miss more than a year in total. Was racing the clock and lost.