Captain Christine Sinclair returns from injury to lead Canada in soccer friendlies against Wales and England later this month as the Canadian women continue their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.
The 37-year-old from Burnaby, B.C., the world’s all-time leading scorer with 186 goals, missed the SheBelieves Cup in February due to an undisclosed injury.
Canada, ranked eighth in the world, takes on No. 31 Wales on April 9 at Leckwith Stadium in Cardiff before facing No. 6 England on April 13 at Stoke City Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent.
“The matches against Wales and England in April are again critical to our preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” Canada coach Bev Priestman said in a statement
“If you look at both teams, they have had success against top-10 teams over the past two years and obviously England were semifinalists at the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, which will be a great Tier 1 test to assess players and where this group is at. I’m excited to get back in with the group and continue building towards where we want to be come the summer.”
Canada, in its first action since March 2020 and the first with the 34-year-old Priestman at the helm, went 1-2-0 at the SheBelieves Cup, losing to Brazil and the top-ranked U.S. and beating Argentina.
Brazil is tied with Canada at No. 8 in the world rankings while Argentina and Wales are both at No. 31.
“I expect two very tough games with different styles of play, which will only help up in our preparation for Tokyo 2020,” said Priestman. “We will continue to build on the progress made in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup, with a greater emphasis on partnerships and chemistry as we move closer to the Olympic Games, given we will have key players available.”
The Canada squad includes first-time call-up Cloe Lacasse, a 27-year-old forward from Sudbury, Ont., who plays in Portugal for Benfica. Uncapped Liverpool goalkeeper Rylee Foster, a 22-year-old from Cambridge, Ont., who did not see action in the SheBelieves Cup, gets another call-up.
The other ‘keepers are veterans Stephanie Labbe and Erin McLeod.
Unavailable due to medical reasons are goalkeepers Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC), Sabrina D’Angelo (Vittsjo GIK, Sweden), defenders Kadeisha Buchanan (Lyon, France) and Bianca St-Georges (Chicago Red Stars), midfielder Diana Matheson (Kansas City NWSL) and forward Adriana Leon (West Ham, England).
Other veterans include Desiree Scott and Sophie Schmidt, who captained the team at the SheBelieves Cup in Sinclair’s absence.
Sinclair (296), Schmidt (202) and Scott (158) have 656 caps between them.
Priestman’s roster includes four players who made their senior debut at the Florida tournament: defender Jade Rose, midfielders Jordyn Listro and Samantha Chang and striker Evelyne Viens.
Goalkeepers: Rylee Foster, Liverpool (England); Stephanie Labbe, FC Rosengard (Sweden); Erin McLeod, Orlando Pride (NWSL).
Defenders: Lindsay Agnew, N.C. Courage (NWSL); Gabrielle Carle, Florida State University; Allysha Chapman, Houston Dash (NWSL); Vanessa Gilles, FC Girondins de Bordeaux (France); Ashley Lawrence, Paris Saint-Germain (NWSL); Jayde Riviere, University of Michigan; Jade Rose, Super REX Ontario; Shelina Zadorsky, Tottenham (England).
Midfielders: Samantha Chang, University of South Carolina; Jessie Fleming, Chelsea (England); Julia Grosso, University of Texas at Austin; Jordyn Listro, Kansas City NWSL; Quinn, OL Reign FC (NWSL); Sophie Schmidt, Houston Dash (NWSL); Desiree Scott, Kansas City NWSL; Sarah Stratigakis, University of Michigan.
Forwards: Janine Beckie, Manchester City (England); Jordyn Huitema, Paris Saint-Germain (France); Cloe Lacasse, Benfica (Portugal); Nichelle Prince, Houston Dash (NWSL); Deanne Rose, University of Florida; Christine Sinclair, Portland Thorns (NWSL); Evelyne Viens, Sky Blue FC (NWSL).
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 1, 2021
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press