Emma Checker has not been the envy of her peers in recent times.

After stealing hundreds of headlines by making her Matildas debut at the tender age of 16 Adelaide United’s new signing has not had it easy.

Checker’s skyrocketing career trajectory was stopped in its tracks after she ruptured her ACL in 2016, before a nasty ankle injury and other hindrances have seen her miss a total of six months in 2017.

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Swapping the rehab centre for the playing field has not been an easy task for the Reds recruit but Checker hopes the difficult switch back home will have its desired effect.

“I have nothing bitter towards Canberra [United], the way they supported and treated me was top notch,” Emma remarked.

“Leaving that was really tough, but at the same time my heart was set on coming home and I knew that was the right thing.”

The 21-year-old been solely commited on being right for the Reds’ season opener against Western Sydney Wanderers tonight after Adelaide had the bye in Round 1.

 

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The centre-back holds no excuses for the chequered run of injuries she has suffered with her mind intensely focused on regaining the attention of national coach Alen Stajic and his counterparts.

“My main goal right now is to get back in the Matildas squad,” she said.

“Looking back when I made my debut, I probably really should’ve appreciated the opportunity I had more and realised just how special it was.

“When I watch the girls out there I burn inside because I just want to be out there as well.”

Currently a favourite for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup the Australians are at their strongest ever, which Checker claims should be no surprise.

“With the hard work of the coaching staff in developing this group and the timeless hours that the players are putting in, it was only a matter of time until we did start to shine and grow.

“It’s exciting times for us a country and women’s sport in general.

“It’s just something I really want to be a part of.”

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The exciting times are literally paying dividends with the new W-League Collective Bargaining Agreement becoming a reality this season, in effect giving players the ability to pursue football on a full-time professional basis.

“I don’t think it’s the be-all-and-end-all, but it’s a part of that and a part of being treated like a professional and [seeing] your hard work valued.

“The workrate of the girls would still be the same regardless, but now you can play as a career, [without] having to worry about the stresses on the side.

“It is a very important step forward and I think we can still make more progress in that area.”

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Checker, who spent time overseas with the Incheon Red Angels in the off-season, will partner with her former Canberra teammate Jenna McCormick in defence.

Full-backs Georgia Campagnale and Grace Abbey round out a fascinating backline that will be entirely South Australian, in a bid to solve United’s long history of defensive woes.

“For us, it’s getting the right mentality, believing in ourselves [and] playing to the plan.

“Within ourselves and as a group we’ve set the bar high and we’re not going to settle for anything less.

“We’re going to succeed.”

To succeed, the Reds will have to brush aside 10 seasons in the wilderness since the league’s inception, and breaking this hoodoo is certainly easier said than achieved.

However, Adelaide are undoubtedly much more of a chance of making their maiden finals appearance than Checker is of scoring a goal this season, although she remains quietly confident of adding to her W-League tally of one.

“I’d like to think I can, as a centre-back its never an easy task but I’d be absolutely stoked if I could get one in the net, that’s for sure.”

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Adelaide-based writer, content creator and story-teller. Like one of those determined ants that require a second flick.