Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has told any aspiring national team players they would best be served to win a call-up by playing football overseas.
Tony Gustavsson has suggested any A-League Women players hoping to feature in the Matildas' World Cup squad next year needs to head overseas after naming a near-identical side to the one that was dumped out of the Asian Cup quarter-finals.
Gustavsson on Tuesday named his 23-player squad to take on New Zealand in two friendlies in April with just one change - Katrina Gorry in for the injured Holly McNamara - from the side humbled in an abject 1-0 defeat to South Korea earlier this year.
Gorry, who returns to the squad for the first time since February 2020 following the birth of her daughter, is one of just five players who played in the most recent ALW season.
The exclusions of Sydney's Mackenzie Hawkesby and Melbourne Victory's Alex Chidiac after they featured in Sunday's grand final were questionable, although Gustavsson said the pair were on an extended list for the games in Townsville on Friday, April 8 and in Canberra on Tuesday, April 12.
Of the ALW quintet selected, only Sydney's Cortnee Vine has yet to announce she will go abroad before the resumption of the 2022/23 season.
The others - Sydney's Remy Siemsen, the Melbourne Victory duo of Courtney Nevin and Kyra Cooney-Cross and Gorry - will play club football in Scandinavia later this year.
Gustavsson said: "I do think for the ones that haven't signed somewhere else yet are going to have to ask themselves what do I need to do to play at the highest level possible and to reach my full potential?
"Because if they are stuck here from now up until the next elite season what kind of development environment are they going to be in?
"Are they going to be challenged to come up to the next level or are they going to be able to challenge for a spot in the senior Matildas?"
His point has merit given there is no home/away season in the 14-round ALW, but will likely lead to more players leaving the competition before they are ready.
In his first address to the media since a review of their 1-0 exit to the Koreans, Gustavsson dismissed the suggestion his side had reverted to long-ball tactics.
While he pointed to statistics from that game as a defence against Australia's approach, data shows the Matildas made the most long passes of any side in their group and in the knockout game loss to South Korea.
Ahead of next year's World Cup on home soil, the numbers of Gustavsson's 20-game reign don't paint a great picture, either.
The Swede has won just five games since taking charge and his sole win against a team ranked among FIFA's top 20 was a friendly against Brazil on home soil.
"I'm really disappointed at the loss (to South Korea) but there's also a lot of that performance that said we should actually have won," he said.
"I'm humble enough to say there's a lot of things to learn.
"I don't want to sit here and protect myself saying it was better than it was because that's not me. I'm always trying to be as honest as I can."
Goalkeepers: Mackenzie Arnold, Teagan Micah, Lydia Williams. Defenders: Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Charlotte Grant, Alanna Kennedy, Aivi Luik, Courtney Nevin, Clare Polkinghorne. Midfielders: Kyra Cooney-Cross, Emily van Egmond, Katrina Gorry, Clare Wheeler, Tameka Yallop. Forwards: Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily Gielnik, Sam Kerr, Hayley Raso, Remy Siemsen, Kyah Simon, Cortnee Vine.