Versatility the key as United cover injury blow

Norwegian international Elise Thorsnes' versatility will be crucial for Canberra United as they try to stay in touch with the W-League top four, after winger Nicky Flannery was ruled out for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury.

United sit four points outside the top four with a game in hand making a win over the bottom-placed Adelaide United at McKellar Park on Sunday crucial to stay in the finals race.

Their hopes have been dealt a blow with Young Matildas winger Flannery ruled out for the rest of the campaign after she damaged ankle ligaments in their 3-0 loss to Sydney FC before Christmas.

But her loss will be bolstered by the return of co-captain Ashleigh Sykes after missing two games due to an ankle injury.

Canberra coach Heather Garriock said Thorsnes will slot in up front to cover Flannery.

While she plays left back for Norway, she plays as a striker at club level.

"That's part of the game, we need to take the good with the bad, but for Nicky and individually, she's such a great young talent, she'll bounce back from this," Garriock said.

"It's sad to see her not in the green for the rest of the season.

"Elise, I knew she was going to be a utility player - she plays left back for the Norwegian national team and she plays up top or as a striker for her club team.

"The versatility in her is very good and we'll use her up top for sure."

United lost their last three games before the Christmas break and sit four points adrift of the fourth-placed Perth Glory, albeit with a game in hand.

It makes a win over Adelaide, who have only one win and win draw so far this season, all the more crucial.

But Garriock said they couldn't afford to worry about what other clubs were doing around them.

"Top four is the key and for Canberra United to make the top four is our end goal, but in saying that it's very easy to get caught up to see what other teams are doing well and who's winning and three points," she said.

"For us it's in our own hands - if we win the rest of the games for the rest of the season starting with Adelaide on Sunday then it's in our hands whether we're going to make finals or not."

While they stumbled into the Festive Season with three straight losses, Garriock was confident the squad was starting to gel.

With players descending on the W-League from leagues around the world, Canberra United only had a short pre-season - something Garriock didn't expect to change any time soon due to the nature of the W-League.

While United had a short break over Christmas, they trained on New Year's Eve.

"From a football perspective, it's always difficult drawing players from different countries and different styles, but I think they've fitted in really well," Garriock said.

"It is difficult to get different players to do what we want, but at the same time they've bought into what we're trying to do.

"I think on the weekend we'll see a different Canberra United.

"If we had a 10-week pre-season then we'd be much better off. None of the teams do unfortunately in W-League and I think we should be peaking at the right time."

There's a forecast maximum of 36 degrees for Canberra on Sunday, which means the W-League's heat policy could come into play.


Sunday: Canberra United v Adelaide United at McKellar Park, 4.30pm. Tickets available from Eventopia.

This story Versatility the key as United cover injury blow first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.