Matildas teammate speaks out amid glaring issue surrounding Mary Fowler

The Matildas fan favourite has not had things her own way at club side Manchester City.

Pictured here, Mary Fowler in action for the Matildas.
Mary Fowler has been a key player for the Matildas despite her lack of game time at club level. Pic: AAP

As long as Mary Fowler is fit and firing for the Matildas, it doesn't really matter how many minutes she's playing at Manchester City. At least, that's the suggestion from Australia's coach Tony Gustavsson and teammates after Fowler starred in Wednesday night's 10-0 Olympic Games qualifying rout of Uzbekistan at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium.

The second leg result saw the Matildas punch their ticket to the Paris Games later this year after thrashing Uzbekistan 13-0 on aggregate. Veteran striker Michelle Heyman scored four goals - including a 15-minute hat-trick in the first half - while Fowler was among a host of other goal-scorers for the Aussies.

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The 21-year-old fan favourite has established herself as one of Australia's most important players, particularly in the absence of injured captain Sam Kerr. However, Fowler has struggled for minutes at club level in the Women's Super League, where she plays for English giant, Manchester City.

Fowler has scored just the one goal in 23 appearances for City since joining the club from French side Montpellier in 2022. The 21-year-old is admittedly still in the early stages of her football career but has not started in the league for Man City since mid-November.

These images show Mary Fowler and her Matildas teammates.
Matildas teammates and coach Tony Gustavsson agree that Mary Fowler is thriving in the Aussie team environment. Pic: AAP

Mary Fowler brushes off club situation to fire for Matildas

The lack of playing time has done little to affect Fowler's performances or confidence in the green and gold though and both the Matildas coach and the forward's teammates say it has a lot to do with the environment in the Aussie camp. Man City teammate and veteran Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy says Fowler has been allowed the freedom to express herself on the pitch for Australia and the support of fans has helped take her game to another level.

“I think for Mary it’s an exciting time for her, for all of us to come back, just to be able to play in front of all the fans and play for Australia... we just love it,” Kennedy said. “For her, I’m sure she’s so comfortable and just feels the freedom to be able to express herself on the pitch, regardless of whether she’s had the minutes at City or not.

“She’s just an unbelievable player. I think whenever she gets an opportunity, she’s always going to create something in any game that she plays.” Kennedy, Fowler and the other European-based Matildas players all flew out of Melbourne on Thursday morning to link back up with their respective clubs, having achieved their goal of qualifying for the Olympic Games in style.

Fowler was a constant menace for the Uzbekistan defence after being shifted to the left side of Australia's attack on Wednesday night. The 21-year-old's threatening runs and service into the box kept the Matildas on the front foot for long periods and Fowler's 36th minute goal was just reward for her industrious display.

Players thriving in Matildas environment

Gustavsson admitted after the game that he couldn't be happier with how Fowler continues to respond when selected for the national side, but was refused to be drawn on her club football predicament. “As a national team coach, you are obviously not in control of that... but what I am very, very impressed with is there’s a lot of players that have lacked the minutes coming into this environment but they still perform, and that I think is credit to the player but I also think is credit to our environment,” the Matildas coach said.

“Because when you come in with a lack of minutes and form and maybe lack confidence, but you come into this environment where you’re valued, you trust the team... the tactics and you’re able to perform with limited minutes – that makes me a little bit less concerned.

Australia's coach said while he would love seeing all his players getting more game time at their respective clubs, displays like the ones against Uzbekistan will only strengthen their chances. “I would love to see more minutes, and I also think that club coaches watch international games, and I think a lot of our players with these two performances send some very clear messages back to clubs that ‘I want to play’.”

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