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Shock Matildas call makes veteran Heyman feel 21 again

She turns 36 later this year, but veteran striker Michelle Heyman feels 21 again after being handed a shock recall by Australia boss Tony Gustavsson.

It marks a stunning turnaround for Heyman, who has been consistently overlooked by the Swede, previously retired from international football, and won the last of her 61 caps six years ago.

But the 35-year-old now appears set for a Matildas swansong during their Olympic qualifiers, as Gustavsson seeks to fill the void left by captain Sam Kerr, who is sidelined with an ACL injury.

Heyman and Chloe Logarzo, who missed last year's Women's World Cup with injury, were the two big inclusions when Australia's 23-player squad was announced on Wednesday.

The Matildas play Uzbekistan in a qualifier later this month, with a win across the two legs guaranteeing their passage to the Paris Olympics, which begin in July.

Michelle Heyman with the 2016 Olympic squad.
Michelle Heyman was a key member of Australia's squad at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. (HANDOUT/AUSTRALIAN OLYMPIC COMMITTEE)

"I feel like I'm 21 again, it's a great feeling - it's been six years since I've put on the green and gold and to get this call up ... it's changed my life," Heyman said.

"When I retired I really needed a break and back in 2019 you couldn't use the words, 'mental health'.

"Since 2020 coming back into the A-League Women, I've loved every minute and it sparked that fire in my belly to get back into the squad.

"I needed time to be a human, not be a robot and being in the national team back then was a lot for your body.

"Now I feel fitter, stronger and happier than what I was back then.

"It's really sad news for Sam, that's how my career started back in 2010, Sam did a knee and I got her spot, so it's a surreal, weird feeling that this has happened again."

Heyman has nine goals in 14 ALW games for Canberra United this season, becoming the first player in the history of the ALW to score 100 goals in the competition along the way.

Her recall comes as Logarzo sealed her comeback to the senior set-up in what is a significant boost for Gustavsson.

Chloe Logarzo with the Matildas.
Chloe Logarzo returns to the Matildas set-up after missing the 2023 World Cup with injury. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

After watching last year's World Cup from the TV studio, the midfielder has got her body right at Western United after a lengthy battle with injury.

"To be able to have this again, I feel like a kid again," Logarzo said.

"Seeing life on the other side ... it gives me a different view on what it's like to be in the Matildas and I won't ever take that for granted."

Logarzo, Heyman and the Sydney FC duo of Cortnee Vine and uncapped goalkeeper Jada Whyman were the four players called up from the ALW.

There is also a spot in the squad for uncapped defender Kaitlyn Torpe, who wins her first call-up after sealing a move to San Diego Wave earlier this week.

Steph Catley will captain the side in Kerr's absence.

The first leg is away in Tashkent on February 24 before the return fixture at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium on February 28.

MATILDAS SQUAD:

Goalkeepers: Mackenzie Arnold, Teagan Micah, Jada Whyman

Defenders: Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Charli Grant, Clare Hunt, Alanna Kennedy, Aivi Luik, Clare Polkinghorne, Kaitlyn Torpey

Midfielders: Kyra Cooney-Cross, Mary Fowler, Katrina Gorry, Chloe Logarzo, Amy Sayer, Emily van Egmond, Clare Wheeler, Tameka Yallop

Forwards: Caitlin Foord, Michelle Heyman, Hayley Raso, Cortnee Vine.