A-League Women round two: Wellington Phoenix v Western United
Where: Sky Stadium, Wellington When: Saturday, 3pm
Live coverage: Sky Sport 7, live updates on Stuff
Pocket rocket Michaela Robertson is set to make her Wellington Phoenix debut, a week later than she would have liked.
The fringe Football Fern missed the team’s A-League Women opener and first-ever home game last weekend after she was ruled out with concussion.
Robertson suffered the brain injury when she took a shot to the face during the first week of pre-season training.
One month later, the diminutive winger has finally been cleared to play and will slot straight into the starting lineup for the Phoenix’s second round match against newcomers Western United at Sky Stadium on Saturday.
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Robertson will become the first player from Wellington to turn out for the Phoenix in the A-League Women when she debuts.
“Unfortunately I got kicked in the face with the ball, and it took me out,” Robertson said.
“I thought it was fine but a week later symptoms kicked in and a month on here we are.
“Concussion symptoms are a little bit strange and they’re a bit different for everyone but I had a lot of pressure in my head, struggled to focus.
“But now I’ve done all the tests and I’m passing them symptom free, it’s good to be back.
“This is a moment I’ve dreamed of my whole life.”
The Phoenix will be hoping for an improved defensive performance after conceding four second-half goals to lose 4-1 to Melbourne City in their first-ever home game last weekend.
Coach Natalie Lawrence said one-on-one defending had been a key focus throughout the week after the Phoenix defence was run ragged by Chilean striker Maria Jose Rojas, who had a hand in three of City’s four goals.
“Obviously we can’t deny the fact that there were some technical one-v-one errors that led to goals,” Lawrence said.
“That’s been a big focus for us.”
The Phoenix will need to tighten up defensively if they are to beat Western, who toppled two-time defending champions Melbourne Victory in their inaugural game.
Western’s World Cup-winning striker Jess McDonald will pose the biggest threat, having scored the winner in the 1-0 triumph over Victory.
McDonald was part of the United States team that won the World Cup in 2019 and is a three-time NWSL champion.
“We know that she’s going to provide a lot of class, provide a lot of speed and provide experience.
“We obviously watched their game back and she scored their goal … but she’s always going to be someone we’re going to have to watch out for.
“We’ve looked through videos of her recently and we know what her strengths are and we’re going to try to nullify them as much as we can so then we can play our game.”
Although Robertson has been cleared to play, captain Lily Alfeld (knee), forward Emma Rolston (back) and midfielders Isabel Gomez (foot) and Grace Wisnewski (calf) remain unavailable.