Matildas monitor health concerns in China

Kyah Simon is back in the Matildas squad for next month's Tokyo Games qualifiers in China.
Kyah Simon is back in the Matildas squad for next month's Tokyo Games qualifiers in China.

The FFA and Matildas staff will closely monitor two health and safety situations ahead of their Tokyo Olympics qualifiers in China next month.

Coach Ante Milicic announced the 20-player squad on Wednesday, with the bulk of players set for a week-long training camp beginning January 20 in Sydney, where smoke haze continues to blanket the city affecting air quality.

There are also reports of a mysterious pneumonia-like virus that has swept through Wuhan in central China, where the Matildas are due to arrive on January 28 for three matches.

"Normally, of course you'd be concerned. The FFA is aware of it, the team manager and myself have discussed it, they're on top of it," Milicic said.

"We're monitoring the situation and doing all that we can to get on the front foot and we wouldn't jeopardise the welfare of the players or the staff.

"It's something we'll monitor day to day and see where it lands."

Given the conditions in Sydney, Matildas officials will monitor the air quality for the safety of the athletes in the lead up to the camp later this month.

All but superstar captain Sam Kerr and Bayern Munich's Emily Gielnik will arrive in Sydney to prepare for qualifiers against Chinese Taipei, Thailand and China.

Melbourne City striker Kyah Simon has been included in the Matildas squad after ankle and hamstring injuries forced her out of Australia's squad for last year's World Cup in France, as well as November's friendlies against Chile.

"I haven't had her in a match day scenario... she's been injured for a long period of time," Milicic said.

"I feel she's slowly getting back to her old self and some form."

Record goalscorer Lisa de Vanna again missed selection, as she did for the games against Chile, but Milicic insists the strength of talent in the first third forced him to make tough decisions.

"As a coach you don't always get it right, but what I do like with the smaller side is that the competition is a lot stronger for places and I think we've shown that," he said.

"It was a difficult squad to pick but in the end we've gone with what we feel will do the job in difficult conditions with three difficult games in a short space of time."

W-League improvers Western Sydney Wanders were not rewarded for their second-place standing this season, although teenage forward Kyra Cooney-Cross will be on standby.

Matildas squad: Mackenzie Arnold (gk), Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Caitlin Foord, Emily Gielnik, Katrina Gorry, Elise Kellond-Knight, Alanna Kennedy, Sam Kerr (capt), Chloe Logarzo, Aivi Luik, Jenna McCormick, Teagan Micah (gk), Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Karly Roestbakken, Kyah Simon, Emily van Egmond, Sarah Willacy (gk), Lydia Williams (gk), Tameka Yallop.

Australian Associated Press