Matildas leader gives De Vanna drama wide berth

by Teo Pellizzeri on May 21, 2011

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Matildas vice-captain Collette McCallum has spoken optimistically about a return to the national set-up for exiled striker Lisa De Vanna.

The firebrand forward was dismissed from the Matildas camp in Gosford last week and according to AAP reports, must accept a set of conditions set out by national coach Tom Sermanni and the team doctor in order to gain selection for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup.

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McCallum, who scored Australia's winning goal last Sunday in its 2-1 friendly win against New Zealand, said De Vanna's dismissal and the circumstances that led to it had not had an impact on morale in the playing group.

De Vanna was reportedly dismissed due to a number of indiscretions relating to training, team and media commitments.

"It (the camp) was very professional even though those situations did happen," McCallum said to Melbourne radio station SEN.

"The girls stayed out of it. It was more Tom (Sermanni's) decision and what he had to do to change it. Obviously people like Bubs (Melissa Barbieri) as captain had words with her as well as senior players, but most of them stayed out of it and we tried to keep a good vibe in the squad. Especially for the young ones.

"Whatever happens, I'm sure it's going to get solved and it'll be totally fine before we head off (to Germany)."

Forwards Kyah Simon, Leena Khamis and Catherine Cannulli all found the net in the friendly double-header against New Zealand, all putting their hand up to fill the void left by De Vanna's absence and injuries to Kate Gill and Sarah Walsh.

"It was so unfortunate for Kate who was at the peak of her career," McCallum said of Gill's knee injury.

"Kyah has definitely stepped up. She's working really hard at training, her touch and her being very creative is amazing. She's definitely going to make an impact in this World Cup. A lot of countries don't know about her and they're definitely going to get a wake-up call."

25-year-old McCallum is an integral part of the Matildas midfield and veteran of the 2007 Women's World Cup where Australia was eliminated at the quarter-final stage.

"For me individually it's about being fit and healthy and having that confidence in myself and the team," she said.

"I have great belief in the team that we're going to do well. I just want to do the best I can.

"I hope I do go on and make a difference for the team. It's exciting but nervous at the same time, but this is what you live for so I can't wait until we're over there."

Teo Pellizzeri is a Melbourne-based journalist, commentator and radio presenter, covering the world game from the thirds leagues all the way up to Asian Champions League in his role with Fairfax Newspapers. You can hear Teo on SEN 1116's All Night Appetite from 12-2am on Tuesdays and Fridays and read more at www.sportsbuzz.com.au