Defiant Heffernan puts faith in fearless young players

The Wanderers might be down on key players, but head coach Dean Heffernan is looking forward to the chance for his team to make a statement against Westfield W-League high flyers Melbourne City at Marconi Stadium on Thursday night. 

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With the side ravaged by suspensions and injuries and having won just once in their last four games, the critics have written off the Wanderers as a championship threat despite their brilliant form in the first three months of the season.

Heffernan has hinted he will throw several young debutants into the fray against the unbeaten championship favourites as the Red & Black look to cement their spot in the top four.

The Red & Black will be without the suspended Kristen Hamilton, sent off against Sydney FC last week, and Ella Mastrantonio, who has accumulated the allowable quota of yellow cards, while Abby Smith and captain Erica Halloway are sidelined with injury.

Still, a defiant Heffernan retains strong faith and belief that his team can make life difficult for the Victorian powerhouse on Thursday night. 

“Definitely, that (sending a message the team is still alive and kicking) has been the message all this week and the week before,” said Heffernan.

“It’s obviously a challenge where we are at, at the moment.

“We have lost quite a few key players, but the good thing is we have exciting, young fearless players to come in and fill the void.

“I am really keen to see how they step up tomorrow. It’s a massive opportunity for us to bounce back and a massive opportunity for us to beat a team that hasn’t been beaten this season.

“They are a team that has six or seven Matildas and a stacked roster of visa players as well and we are looking forward to them coming.

“We hope they come at full strength because they are going to have to work for every inch when they come to Marconi.”

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Heffernan has no doubt the players who will come into fill the void left by the loss of the likes of the club’s leading scorer Hamilton and tireless midfielder Mastrantonio will be up to the task.

“Obviously Kristen and Ella have been very important for us. Every day in training, every game they step up and give us everything they have,” explained Heffernan.

“They’ll be missed, but it’s a huge opportunity for the girls who come in to show us what they have got leading into the Finals.

“It’s the same for all the girls in our squad. I know everything about them and that’s why I am so excited for the game because I know what these girls can produce. I know that physically they are ready.

“The amount of work they’ve done I am sure no-one else has worked as hard as these girls this season especially the ones who are coming into this game now.

“There is nothing for them to fear.”