Jamilla Rankin and Clare Wheeler have earned their first national team selections after being chosen in the Matildas squad for Australia’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland.
Australia’s 25-player squad started training in Dublin on Monday ahead of the match at the Tallaght Stadium next Wednesday morning [AEST].
Rankin was chosen in Tony Gustavsson’s initial squad, with Wheeler called up on Tuesday after Ellie Carpenter and Kyah Simon withdrew.
Rankin, a Football Far North Coast product, has enjoyed a rapid recent rise.
The 18-year-old defender gained Matildas selection on the back of a breakout W-League campaign with Brisbane Roar which culminated in a Young Footballer of the Year nomination. Brisbane announced in August that Rankin was the first player Roar had resigned ahead of the 2021-22 W-League season.
“It was crazy. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe it,” Rankin told the Brisbane Roar website.
“It took a while to sink in. I told my parents and they were really happy for me and proud that all the hard work is paying off. I think it will be a big step up but a good opportunity to test myself, compare myself and see where I’m at.
“I’m happy to be there.”
Rankin played for Eureka FC in the Football Far North Coast junior competition and was also part of the Liverpool Academy at Southern Cross University.
Football Far North Coast general manager Steve Mackney congratulated Rankin on behalf of the football community.
“Jamilla has shown exceptional dedication since she was a young player and we join with her wonderful, supportive family and former coaches, including so many who helped guide her technical development during her time with the Liverpool Football Academy, in wishing Jamilla every success,” Mackney said.
“Legendary Matildas Lisa Casagrande and Julie Dolan, both formerly from this region, are among many who acknowledge Jamilla’s selection.
“The broader local community can be exceptionally proud of Jamilla and we believe that she will be an inspirational role model for young players from regional NSW, in particular females who are increasingly participating and progressing in the world game.”
Wheeler, an Adamstown Rosebud junior, has also enjoyed a whirlwind 12 months.
The 23-year-old midfielder left the Newcastle Jets to play with Sydney FC in the 2020-21 W-League season. Wheeler then departed the Sky Blues to join Danish champions Fortuna Hjorring in June.
Matildas veteran Emily van Egmond was also chosen in the squad, with the Northern NSW Football product and Dudley Redhead junior in line to make her 109th appearance in the green and gold.
Kick-off is at 4am on Wednesday [AEST], with the match broadcast live on Network 10.