If history is anything to go by, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will provide the perfect stage for the Matildas’ breakout stars to audition for a big club move.
Young midfielder Kyra Cooney-Cross and centre-back Clare Hunt appear the most likely to attract the attention of Europe’s top clubs.
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Previous World Cups have turned out to be the launchpad for plenty of Matildas and Socceroos.
Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley all confirmed their moves to Europe after putting themselves in the shop window with impressive performances at the 2019 tournament in France. They have since taken their game to another level.
Cooney-Cross, who debuted for Australia in 2021, has started all three group matches and starred in this week’s 4-0 group-stage win over Canada with her intensity and passing range.
Matildas Clare Hunt and Kyra Cooney-Cross have shone at the FIFA Womens World Cup. Credit: Chris Putnam/ Joe Prior/Getty Images
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Chelsea manager Emma Hayes has publicly admired the young playmaker, while Arsenal men’s great Ian Wright was among those singing the praises of Cooney-Cross after her standout showing against the Canadians.
“Cooney-Cross bro,” Wright tweeted in admiration of her performance.
The dynamic 21-year-old has shone at Swedish club Hammarby but insists she isn’t looking beyond this tournament.
“I’ve just been with Hammarby in Sweden and thinking about now and doing well at the World Cup,” she said last week.
“I’m starting, so I want to keep doing that so far, and I want to show myself (at) this World Cup.”
Midfield teammate Katrina Gorry told AAP ahead of the tournament she felt Cooney-Cross could reach the very top — but that she did not need to rush.
“She can be one of the best players in the world,” Gorry said.
“For her, it’s taking it slowly.
“She’s moved over to Sweden and she’s definitely one of the best midfielders here, so I don’t think she needs to accelerate too quickly.
“She’s still young, she needs to keep on learning and keep on growing and finding good environments for her, not too out of her comfort (zone) too quickly.”
Western Sydney Wanderers captain Hunt, who has overcome a horror run of injuries to break through as a senior international, has so far taken every moment of her Matildas career in her stride.
The composed and tough 24-year-old’s early World Cup performances are reminiscent of Harry Souttar’s efforts with the Socceroos in Qatar which went on to earn the towering central defender a move to then-Premier League club Leicester City.
Hunt is still taking stock of her rapid rise.
“I am processing this experience on the go and just trying to enjoy the environment in camp and the tournament,” she said.
“I’m sure I’ll have time post-World Cup to reflect on the whirlwind of the last six to eight months.”
Along with Cooney-Cross, she might well be doing so from a dressing room at a prestigious new club.
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