Rigby’s confident in Glory despite Kerr departure

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A late pre-season and a period of uncertainty surrounding the future of Sam Kerr has made Perth Glory’s run at another finals appearance all the more difficult.

Glory began their formal pre-season training this week and announced an 11-player preliminary squad on Friday before their season opener against Canberra on November 17.

Experienced defender Natasha Rigby admitted the late start had put the squad in a unique situation about a month before round one.

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“We only have four weeks of pre-season now, which makes things a little bit tricky,” she said.

“This time last year we would have been in our fourth week of pre-season so it feels a little bit different and the internationals are only just getting sorted out now.”

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The later start is a result of the 2019 Women’s World Cup which pushed back the USA’s National Women’s Soccer League finals series until the end of October.

Despite this, Rigby was confident off-season commitments had left her teammates in good physical shape for the season opener.

“The majority of the girls are either coming off an awesome state league season or coming out of the Young Matildas camp, so everyone is fit and firing and ready to go,” she said.

“It’s more the tactical side of things and figuring out one another and how each other plays. It’ll be mostly figuring each other out and finding out where everyone is comfortable.”

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The newly announced squad is without their top three goal scorers from last season, Alyssa Mautz, Rachel Hill, and Kerr, meaning the season will provide Western Australia’s young talent an opportunity to take centre stage.

“We’ve got so many local girls in the line-up this year so it’s going to be amazing to see what the local talent can do,” Rigby said.

“We have so many of the younger girls coming in who have been playing and debuting in the Junior Matildas and the Young Matildas so to see them come through and see what they’re capable of will be fantastic.”

With Kerr expected to pursue opportunities in Europe, Rigby said she was excited about the prospect of working with some new talent in the forward-line.

“In terms of our striking power, I think it would be awesome to get some international girls in that can bring a whole new level to our game,” she said.

“But to be honest, some of the younger girls are little guns so putting them up there and allowing them to have a shot and making this year a bit of a development year is where we’re aiming to go I think.”

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Glory’s season begins with a trip to Canberra, before a week off and then three consecutive home games at Dorrien Gardens in North Perth.

Rigby said the home stretch would allow the group to settle into training after the late pre-season.

“It’s nice to have a few more home games and let that routine set in.”

Feature image credit: Perth Glory

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