Matildas' injury crisis opens door for Olympic hopefuls

A hard-luck story of last year's Women's World Cup, midfielder Clare Wheeler is among those hoping to turn the Matildas' injury crisis into an Olympics audition.

Wheeler was in the squad but didn't play a minute in the Matildas' golden run - the only outfielder not to feature in some capacity. 

She also went unused in February's final Olympic qualifiers.

But with midfield mainstay Katrina Gorry sidelined following ankle surgery, Everton star Wheeler, who has been one of Australia's most consistent starters in the Women's Super League, should be primed to step up and create a new-look partnership with Kyra Cooney-Cross.

"It's really sad to see 'Mini' injured and for a long injury that she sustained," Wheeler, 26, told AAP.

"She's such a big player, not only on the field, but off the field. She's massive. She's such a role model. 

"And I only hope to try and do my best in whatever way possible, and if that's playing in the No.6 then that's playing in the No.6.

"Or if that's on the sidelines, honestly, at the end of the day, it's not something that I care too much about.

"I care more about, obviously, representing my country and doing whatever is needed for the team."

Cooney-Cross and Wheeler have faced off as midfield opponents in the A-League Women and WSL, but have rarely teamed up.

"Kyra's fantastic, to think that she's only in her early 20s is crazy," Wheeler said.

"She's well above her years (in terms of) composure and confidence - she's just a complete footballer. 

"I'd barely played with her up until being with her in the national team. 

"So it would be great to get to play with her and build that partnership and see where we can go from there."

Gorry, Clare Hunt (foot stress fracture), Courtney Nevin (hip), Aivi Luik (hamstring) and Chloe Logarzo (hip) were all ruled out ahead of the match against Mexico in San Antonio, Texas - joining Sam Kerr (ACL) on the sidelines.

Melbourne Victory striker Emily Gielnik was sent home after picking up a calf injury in camp.

Football Australia was at pains to point out that only Gielnik was injured while on Matildas duty - all other players suffered their setbacks with their clubs.

In the meantime, the likes of Wheeler, Charli Grant and Kaitlyn Torpey will be out to show they deserve a spot in the 18-player Paris squad in this week's friendly against Mexico.

"I'm just going to do the best I can to make sure that I do put my best foot forward and try to make that 18-player roster," Wheeler said.

Torpey said it was not going to be easy for anyone.

"That's the best part about it, that everyone's competing for a spot,'' she said.

"It's very competitive at the moment and we have such good players and it's going to be a great Olympic team and that's going to give confidence in everyone. 

"But personally I'm going to do whatever I can to get into that squad."

The game against Mexico kicks off at 10am on Wednesday (AEST).

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