Top Matildas relishing young Fowler's rise

Teenager Mary Fowler is the best finisher in the Matildas team, says skipper Sam Kerr.
Teenager Mary Fowler is the best finisher in the Matildas team, says skipper Sam Kerr.

If Sam Kerr is calling you the best finisher in the Matildas you must be doing something right.

Teen sensation Mary Fowler is headlining the next generation of youngsters coming through by making an impact now.

The 18-year-old debuted at 15 in 2018 and attended the 2019 Women's World Cup, though a hamstring injury contributed to her not playing a minute.

Fowler joined Montpellier later that year and when she returned to the Matildas under Tony Gustavsson in April 2021, developed into an indispensable part of the new coach's attack.

"In the last two years Mary has literally changed. She's a totally different player," Matildas captain Kerr told AAP.

"She's honestly unbelievable, I think she's the best finisher in the team. She's a top professional. I can't speak highly enough about her.

"She's going to be a world-class player, hopefully, for us. She's unbelievable, you ask anyone in the team she's probably the best finisher on both feet.

"She's changed and it takes time. That's what I don't think people understand.

"She's been in the team for maybe three or four years now, but in the last year and a half she's completely changed and found herself. Maybe Europe has helped that but she's honestly a key player for us now."

Fowler put Australia in front against Great Britain in the Olympics quarter-final and has proved an electric member of the Matildas' attack, scoring five goals this year.

"The Olympics was an eye-opener to everyone just how good she can be," Kerr said.

Vice-captain Steph Catley described Fowler as a "powerhouse" while veteran Clare Polkinghorne relished the "awesome" youngster's impact as both a starter and an impact substitute.

"She's an unbelievable talent and a great person and it's really exciting for the future of the team with a few young players coming in just to freshen up the squad and rejuvenate the group," Polkinghorne told AAP.

Gustavsson has ushered in an era of regeneration with 12 players debuting this year, including teenagers Kyra Cooney-Cross and Courtney Nevin.

"The more these young players are around the camp and some senior footballers and getting the taste for what it is to be at the top of international level, the better they'll be for it and the quicker they can get up to speed and start getting caps and games," Catley told AAP.

"That's only going to help us build a really strong team, especially for 2023.

"That's the goal for everyone right now, is to have that depth that at major tournaments you absolutely need."

Meanwhile the Matildas are likely to be without Alanna Kennedy for the upcoming friendlies against the US as she recovers from a thigh injury suffered at Manchester City.

Australian Associated Press