Matildas' Wheeler seals Everton stay

Matildas midfielder Clare Wheeler has turned her loan at Everton into a permanent deal, agreeing a two-and-a-half-year contract until the end of June 2025 in a crucial move for her World Cup selection hopes.

Former Sydney FC star Wheeler moved to Everton on a temporary basis from Danish side Fortuna Hjorring in August but will now enjoy an extended English Women's Super League stay.

Wheeler, 24, has 11 Matildas caps but is behind Katrina Gorry in the defensive midfield pecking order.

She will hope to press her case for a starting berth with strong form in England - where she will play in the same league as international teammates including Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso and Steph Catley - ahead of July's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

"I love it here in England. As an Aussie, it's been really easy to transition culturally, but I really enjoy the football, too," Wheeler told Everton's website.

"It's one of the best leagues in the world and, looking ahead to the World Cup, it's the place that I want to be.

"I have to keep looking forward and be the best player that I can be.

"I'm happy that it's at Everton and to be amongst this group of players. It's really special and I feel we're building towards something."

Wheeler has made seven appearances so far this campaign under Brian Sorensen, the manager she previously worked with at Fortuna, after injury limited her start to the WSL campaign.

"She's been a little unlucky with injuries over the first half of the season," Sorensen said.

"We believe in her. She's a smart player and suits our style of play."