Melbourne Victory kicks off its Westfield W-League campaign with a trip to Adelaide United on Sunday.
Led by Jeff Hopkins, appointed coach in June, Victory heads to Coopers Stadium looking for a bright start to its season.
However, Young Matildas duty means Annabel Martin – last season’s Victory Women’s medallist – and MelindaJ Barbieri, the 16-year-old Young Player of the Season in a brilliant 2015/16 campaign, will miss the clash.
Hopkins is upbeat heading into Round 1 after a 2-0 win over Melbourne City in a pre-season friendly in the lead-up.
“We went into the game with a few players out, but it’s a real confidence booster for us to win the game and to put in a good performance,” he said.
“I think the players didn’t really know where we sat, we’d been playing against boys for the last few weeks, but I think the result and the performance last week has given them a fair bit of confidence.
“You can see as we get closer to the weekend, the quality of the performance in training has stepped up and the intensity.
“I’ve got a good feeling that the players are in pretty good shape.”
Martin, Christine Nairn – named captain – and Natasha Dowie have returned for 2016/17, and there are numerous additions to the squad.
Among the arrivals are duo Bianca Henninger and Samantha Johnson, who have joined on loan from NWSL clubs.
Sunday’s match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 505 and ABC TV from 2.00pm AEDT.
Westfield W-League 2016/17 Round 1
Adelaide United v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, November 6, 2.30pm AEDT, 2.00pm local
Coopers Stadium, Adelaide
Melbourne Victory squad (two to be omitted): 1.Bianca HENNINGER (gk), 2.Alexandra NATOLI, 3.Alex CHEAL, 4.Melissa TARANTO, 7.Lia PRIVITELLI, 8.Ayesha NORRIE, 9.Natasha DOWIE, 10.Christine NAIRN (c), 13.Laura SPIRANOVIC, 14.Selin KURALAY, 15.Adriana TARANTO, 16.Samantha JOHNSON, 17.Gulcan KOCA, 19.Rachel ALONSO, 20.Bethany MASON-JONES (gk), 22.Caitlin FRIEND, 25.Kariah WHITE
Unavailable: 6.Annabel MARTIN (international duty), 11.MelindaJ BARBIERI (international duty)