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Ferns unchanged for tri-series

After claiming a win and a draw against 16th ranked Denmark in Turkey last week, Readings has opted for the same mix of players with only U-20 internationals Daisy Cleverley and CJ Bott dropping out of the named squad but still training with the group in Auckland.
Readings said the continuity of team selection is a key factor in the success of the side over a prolonged period and will be important in the lead up to Canada.
“It’s really encouraging for us if we look back about 12 months ago when we went to China and Cyprus at the same time last year,” Readings said.
“We had a lot of key players missing and it’s something we can ill afford to do. We’ve got a really strong depth in our squad and as soon as you remove two or three of those top players, then the continuity goes in the team.
“A lot of the success in the last few years has been based on that core group of players that have been together now for a long time so it’s great to be able to name the same squad and long may that continue through to the World Cup.”
Readings says the focus of the group will be similar to the recent series over Denmark with players getting a chance to impress while they continue to refine their team approach.
“We’re going to continue to give players opportunities because we need to see who is performing and which combinations are working for different games at the World Cup so we know everything has been tested by the time we get there.”
“We are looking to win every game we play but at the same time we’re going to learn as much as possible from these two games that we can take forward to the World Cup.”
Facing two sides in the world’s top 10 in a short space of time helps the Football Ferns replicate what they’ll face in Canada in June with both teams set to test Readings’ side in different ways.
“It’s good for us because it represents tournament play for us, similar to when we played France and Norway in November,” Readings said.
“Australia we’re very familiar with; [they’re] very strong physically, can play good football through the thirds and are also very effective playing a little more direct from set plays.
“Korea DPR, we’ve played many teams like this, they develop football very well through the thirds. It’s a team we’re going to need to make sure we disrupt as much as we can.”
In what will be their final outing at home before completing their World Cup preparations overseas, Readings said the team is looking forward to the series.
“Being at home is something that’s always special for us. It’s going to be a really special week and they’ll be three games of top quality football that we hope people will enjoy.
“It’s an opportunity for us to put on a show and take some real steps forward as we edge closer towards the World Cup.”
After scoring her 11th international goal in the win over Denmark, fullback Ria Percival will become the second New Zealander – following Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg – to register 100 games for her country in her next match.
Football Ferns – International Tri-Series, Auckland February 8-12
Cushla Lichtwark – 0/0 – Upper Hutt City, NZ
Erin Nayler – 22/0 – Glenfield Rovers, NZ
Katie Bowen – 20/0 – Glenfield Rovers, NZL
Abby Erceg – 107/5 – Chicago Red Stars, USA
Meikayla Moore – 10/0 – Coastal Spirit, NZL
Ria Percival – 99/11 – USV Jena, GER
Ali Riley – 87/1 – FC Rosengard, SWE
Rebekah Stott – 33/2 – unattached
Hayley Bowden – 92/10 – unattached
Betsy Hassett – 73/8 – unattached
Katie Hoyle – 96/1 – unattached
Annalie Longo – 72/6 – Coastal Spirit, NZL
Kirsty Yallop – 84/12 – Vittsjo GIK, SWE
Helen Collins -27/6 – Claudelands Rovers, NZL
Sarah Gregorius – 60/21 – AS Elfen Saitama, JPN
Amber Hearn – 93/44 – USV Jena, GER
Rosie White – 63/14 – unattached
Hannah Wilkinson – 63/20 – University of Tennessee, USA
Tony Readings – Head Coach
Aaron McFarland – Assistant Coach
Danny Robinson – Assistant Coach
Match schedule
February 8-12
Bill McKinlay Park, Auckland

Football Ferns v Korea DPR
Sunday 8 February, 7.30pm
Korea DPR v Westfield Matildas
Tuesday 10 February, 3.30pm
Football Ferns v Westfield Matildas
Thursday 12 February, 7pm

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