Happy to be back in action

SPENDING nine months away from the pitch due to injury was a frustrating time for Matildas midfielder Sally Shipard but now that she's returned to the squad, she's counting her blessings every day.

"Having something taken away from you, you realise how lucky you were to have it in the first place," Shipard said during training this week.

"Being back now, I'm definitely not taking things for granted. Every session now I'm like 'Oh cool' and I'm really looking forward to sessions and I really have fun during them.

"After the session I'm actually glad that I got through it without being injured."

A stress fracture in a foot as well as having surgery to have floating bone removed from her ankle meant that it was an extended stay on the sidelines for one of the young guns of the Matildas line-up.

Rather than look upon the injury as a setback, Shipard believes that being forced into taking time off basically just makes her one of the girls.

"It gives you the perspective that the older players have because they've all been through a lot of injuries as well," she explained.

"They've all had tons more injuries than just nine months out. Chez (captain Cheryl Salisbury) has this chronic knee pain that she's had for five years that she has to manage from three knee reconstructions. So you're kind of in the ideal place to think that your world isn't going to end."

As a member of the Athens Olympics team at the tender age of 16, Shipard has been touted for big things by national selectors for many years now.

Prior to her injury, the Riverina girl, who is now doing media studies at the University of Canberra, had to find a balance between her commitment to the national squad, as well as to the Young Matildas, who she captained during last year's Youth World Cup in Russia.

"We had really high expectations in Russia which we didn't necessarily meet which was pretty upsetting as we had the makings of a pretty great team," the now 19-year-old said.

"That last game against Russia was a little frustrating as we needed to win that game and we had the opportunities to move into the next round."

Sounds like a very similar situation to tomorrow's do-or-die affair at the BCU International Stadium.

If the Matildas win, then Shipard is a good chance of going to her second Olympics.

If the Aussie girls lose or only manage a draw, then the team is more than likely going to be watching the games on television like most Australians.

"We have to win this game no matter what."

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