Youngest Matilda at World Cup?

Mary Fowler, from Irish and PNG descent, could become the youngest ever Matilda to play at the World Cup if she gets game time in France.

Matildas coach Ante Milicic left some players broken-hearted and others ecstatic when he named his World Cup squad on Tuesday (May 14th).

But according to The Sydney Morning Herald, Milicic says while focusing on Fowler's youth - she only turned 16 in February this year - might be understandable, it would be wrong.

She is, he insists, far more than a curio and has been chosen first and foremost because of her ability.

Any appearance at the World Cup would officially tie Fowler to Australia - not something that FFA officials and coaches could always count upon happening.

Her previous appearances came in friendly matches, which, under FIFA rules, had left open the door for her to play for another country.

Just six months ago the youngster was blocked from being called up for the Matildas squad for the games against Chile by her father, Kevin, sparking fears that she would play for Ireland, the land of his birth, rather than Australia.

Her brother Quivi and sister Ciara had opted to play for Ireland earlier and the soccer community feared Cairns-born Mary might also be lost to the country, given that earlier in 2018 she had said she wanted to play for the same team as her brother and sister.

She had been pencilled in for those matches against the South Americans by former Matildas boss Alen Stajcic, whose frustration at the time was evident.

"Her father has made her unavailable for this game which is a little bit disappointing, I have to say," he had said.

"They've lived an alternative lifestyle, if you would like to call it that, over the past few years.

"The father has a whole family he's trying to look after and protect, and really trying to foster their growth on and off the field.

"She's certainly come a long way on and off the field as a person and we have to give them that space to do whatever they're going to do.

''She's under her father's wing at the moment and I wish her and her family all the best."

The family has been peripatetic, having moved to the Netherlands for a period to foster the children's footballing careers, while Mary herself was reportedly training in England last year with a specialist sprint coach.

With Stajcic's departure, new coach Milicic wasted little time in calling the teenage striker into the squad for the game against the USA in Denver in April, where she came on as a substitute, and he clearly liked what he saw - enough to include her in the party for France.

“'Mary is one that I brought into the camp in America [for the recent friendly against the USA] and I really liked what I saw in her from training,'” he explained at the squad announcement in Sydney.

“'I understand that the age gets mentioned a lot, but at the same time I will always revert back to the footballing quality and that's something that she does have.”

Whether Fowler plays much of a role this time around remains to be seen. But Milicic is confident that she will learn a massive amount from the experience and be a key player for the Matildas in the future.