Western United hoping for Matilda's ALW finals boost

Matildas star Chloe Logarzo is a chance to play in Western United's A-League Women elimination final after overcoming a hip injury.

Having fallen short of a maiden championship last season when they lost the grand final to Sydney FC, United host Newcastle in an elimination final at their permanent new home in Tarneit on Saturday.

United looked odds-on to snatch a first premiership this season, before losing a string of star players to injury.

The then-ALW leaders suffered a gut-wrenching double injury blow in early March when Logarzo sustained a debilitating hip injury in the same week midfielder Adriana Taranto ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in her right knee.

Star striker Hannah Keane suffered a season-ending patella tendon rupture the following week, as United slumped from top spot and eventually finished the regular season in third.

But as the finals get under way, the tide could be turning for Western United.

Coach Kat Smith, who signed a one-year extension deal with the club on Friday, has named Logarzo in her extended squad to take on the Jets.

"She's had boots on this week and she's been involved in sessions," Smith said.

"If you look back at Chloe's journey, before having this little hiccup she was back to a period of form and performance that got her back to the national team.

"She's working incredibly hard to regain that physical state of being able to do that, but mentally she hasn't stepped any rung down the ladder in terms of what she's applying to this group.

"It's (about) what part can she play tomorrow. (Then) we'll be looking into what part she'll play after that - hopefully semi-final football.

"We'll make that final decision as close as we can to the game."

United co-captain Logarzo has had a wretched run with injury, with a slow comeback from an ACL tear in September 2021 followed by a heel injury that ruined another year.

Her injuries kept her out of the Matildas' squad for the 2023 Women's World Cup, and from playing in United's debut finals series - including that grand final defeat to the Sky Blues.

But the 29-year-old had bounced back this season to record nine goals and three assists before her hip problems laid her low.

The Jets head into the matchup missing goalkeeping pair Izzy Nino (suspension) and Kiara Rochaix (finger).

Number one on the agenda for United is to contain powerful Jets goalscorer Sarina Bolden, with the Philippines international boasting 12 goals and nine assists across 17 matches.

Grace Maher and Alana Cerne will be tasked with limiting Bolden on Saturday.

"You know what they say about centre-backs: the best ones in the world don't have to make a tackle," Maher said on Friday.

"Half of our job is organising in front to stop supply to their forward line.

"If we put our foot down and go from the start, we expect there'll be very little for Sarina. (If we can) keep her quiet, that's a really good sign for us."

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