Aussie football fans have been left gutted for Holly McNamara after their 20-year-old suffered a third ACL injury just days after being called into the Matildas squad. The young striker was stretchered off the field after scoring the winning goal for Melbourne City against Newcastle Jets on Sunday.
McNamara scored twice in the 3-2 win, but collided with Jets goalkeeper Izzy Nino after slotting the winner in the second minute of injury time. The striker stayed down on the ground in agony and had to be taken from the field on a stretcher.
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McNamara's reaction was one of pure heartbreak and suggested she knew she'd be set for an extended stint on the sidelines. On Tuesday the ACL injury to her right knee was confirmed by scans, ruling her out for the next 12 months.
"This one is really hard to put into words," McNamara posted on Instagram. "So grateful for all the support and love, I'll be back soon!"
McNamara first did her right ACL as a 15-year-old, before doing the left in February last year. As a 17-year-old she was also cut down by a foot stress fracture.
The latest injury comes as a cruel blow for the young star after she was called up to the Matildas squad last week to play two friendlies against Canada in December. "With the enormous hard work and resilience Holly has shown over the past 18 months, this latest injury news is devastating to hear," Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said.
"Holly has been a true professional in her journey back to earn a recall to the national team and that is a testament to her character. Unfortunately, it's not the news we were hoping for, however, Football Australia's national teams' staff will be on hand to provide Holly with support and care as needed."
💔 "Seeing her reaction was heartbreaking."
After scoring a 92nd-minute winner the day after being selected for the Matildas, 20-year-old star Holly McNamara was stretchered off the pitch.
Our #DubZone panel were gutted reacting to today’s Liberty A-League headline.
We wish… pic.twitter.com/wduNmEN6jD
— Liberty A-League (@aleaguewomen) November 19, 2023
Holly McNamara had just been recalled to Matildas squad
McNamara has played three games for the Matildas since debuting for the national team in 2022. She played at the Asian Cup that year before suffering an ACL injury.
The attacking weapon returned with a bang this year and had four goals to her name to lead the A-League Women's golden boot. She scored a perfect hat-trick in Melbourne City's previous game against Western Sydney.
"I selected her all the way back in April. But she wasn't really ready at that time to be in the senior Matildas environment for different reasons - she needed more time to get back from the ACL and play continuously," Gustavsson said last week. "And so we said 'let's not stress her - let her have her time' - which was important. I actually honestly think she might have been a contender for the World Cup roster otherwise.
"... But once she did get that time to ease her way back into playing time, she once again proved (herself) now in the A-League, look at the stats. (McNamara is) once again off the charts when it comes to goal scoring but also creating goal-scoring chances, line-breaking actions, one-v-one stats, pressing actions.
"She really fits the bill of how we want to play and she can play in all four attacking spots for us. So I'm really, really happy to bring her back into our environment."
We are devastated for you, Holly, we're all behind you and can't wait to see you back in the green & gold. 💚💛@MelbourneCity has confirmed that Holly McNamara has suffered a ruptured ACL during their game over the weekend.#Matildas pic.twitter.com/s2F8StGwE5
— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) November 21, 2023
Oh no. Terrible news. All the best with your recovery Holly
— Maryanne Gaz (@MaryanneGaz) November 21, 2023
Shattered for her. All the best in recovery and rehab Holly Mac.
— Emily Pritchett 🦋 (@emilympritchett) November 21, 2023
Absolutely devastated for Holly McNamara. Confirmed ACL for the second time in 18mths pic.twitter.com/crohaOx3o1
— HER WAY (@abbieherway) November 21, 2023
The timing of it all and just the injury in general is heartbreaking :( Poor bugger :(
— caseyu (@CaseyU84) November 21, 2023
3rd ACL at just 20 would be insane and so incredibly cruel, just as it looked like the Matilda’s were starting to take notice of her
— i miss ona batlle (@catleystan7) November 19, 2023
this is actually so devastating for holly mcnamara if it is the 3 letter word- been through so much already and such a talent, this sport is brutal. wishing her the best
— bea (@ausenalsgooner) November 19, 2023
And the fact that she was names in the tillies’ squad for the friendlies against Canada this week too :(((
— #1 narry stan 🏼 (@asitwasnjh) November 19, 2023
Matildas set to battle Canada in football friendlies
Australia will take on 2021 Olympic gold medallists and World No.10 Canada at Starlight Stadium in Victoria on December 2, then at BC Place in Vancouver on December 6 (AEDT). McNamara and Aivi Luik had been named to replace Cortnee Vine (hamstring) and Alex Chidiac (omitted) in the Matildas squad, while train-on player Charlize Rule has been upgraded to a full squad member.
Elsewhere in the ALW on Sunday, Sydney FC forward Fiona Worts returned to haunt her former club with two goals in their 3-1 win at Adelaide United. And in Brisbane, new Roar coach Alex Smith had a losing start to his tenure after Western United prevailed 1-0 at Ballymore.
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