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2023 Women's World Cup

Priestman names Canada’s 23-player World Cup squad

Six first-time World Cup participants feature, including 18-year-old Olivia Smith; Desiree Scott misses out after knee surgery in December

Photo: Canada Soccer by Mélanie Antoine

The Canadian 23 are set.

On Sunday, Canada’s coach Bev Priestman named three goalkeepers, seven defenders, five midfielders, and eight forwards to her squad for the upcoming 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Leading the line is, of course, captain Christine Sinclair, who is back for her sixth World Cup at age 40. Along with Sinclair, six others were named to the squad with two or more World Cups already under their belts: Sophie Schmidt with four prior appearances, and Allysha Chapman, Kadeisha Buchanan, Adriana Leon, Jessie Fleming, and Ashley Lawrence, all with two prior appearances. 

One player very noticeably missing from the list of veterans on the squad is Desiree Scott, who underwent surgery for a knee injury in December. Scott has been racing against time to return to the pitch post-surgery, but ultimately could not complete the comeback. She has not featured for the Kansas City Current in 2023.

Speaking during TSN’s hour-long roster reveal show, Priestman noted that Scott’s absence is “a devastating loss for the team.”

One other notable omission includes Jade Rose, who left camp on Friday with an undisclosed injury and was ruled out of the tournament. 

Rounding out the squad are ten players returning for their second World Cup, as well as six first-time participants, including 18-year-old Olivia Smith.

The full roster is below:

Goalkeepers (3): Kailen Sheridan (San Diego Wave FC), Sabrina D’Angelo (Arsenal), Lysianne Proulx (SCU Torreense)

Defenders (7): Kadeisha Buchanan (Chelsea), Gabrielle Carle (Washington Spirit), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Vanessa Gilles (Lyon), Ashley Lawrence (Chelsea), Jayde Riviere (Manchester United), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders (5): Simi Awujo (USC), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea), Julia Grosso (Juventus), Quinn (OL Reign), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash)

Forwards (8): Jordyn Huitema (OL Reign), Cloe Lacasse (Arsenal), Adriana Leon (Manchester United), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (Unattached), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Evelyne Viens (Kristianstads DFF), Olivia Smith (Unattached)

Smith a surprise addition

Smith, the 18-year old who played for Penn State in her freshman year, was a surprise addition to the squad. She was not named to Canada’s provisional 25-player roster for their pre-tournament camp, but joined the team in Australia in late June as a training player. However, the 18-year-old from Whitby, Ontario made a large enough impression on Priestman in camp to be named to the final team.

Priestman told TSN “I felt Olivia can cover us in wide areas, even the nine and even in the midfield and I felt with where we’re at with the roster, she brings a different like a wildcard in terms of different positions. So it’s super exciting and [Smith has] an incredible future, so for me I’m investing in the future.”

In an interview on TSN’s roster reveal show, Smith dropped the news that she will not be returning to Penn State in the Fall. Rather, she has decided to go the professional route and will be heading to an undisclosed club “overseas.” She can play both in the midfield and as a forward.

Similar to Smith, defender Gabrielle Carle also was not on Canada’s pre-tournament roster, but was named to the final 23-player roster on Sunday.

A rocky road to Australia for many

A number of players in Canada’s squad are at various stages of recovering from injuries and illness, and as such, have played limited minutes in 2023.

Forwards Deanne Rose and Nichelle Prince both ruptured their achilles tendons in late 2022. Rose, who suffered the injury last September, managed to make it back in time to feature as a substitute at the tail end of Reading’s season in the WSL.

Prince, on the other hand, has had even less time time to recover than Rose. She sustained the same injury in December, and has not featured for the Houston Dash this year. Prince is now back in full training and, according to Priestman, played 20 minutes in Canada’s intra-squad game on Friday.

Defender Shelina Zadorsky endured multiple bouts of COVID, contracted glandular fever, and tested positive for celiac disease all in a three and a half month span at the beginning of 2023. As a result, the defender missed much of Tottenham’s matches early in the year, but was able to make it back in time to feature at the tail end of the season.

Canada’s best ever showing in a World Cup came 20 years ago, when they finished fourth at the 2003 Women’s World Cup in the United States. 

The Canucks open their 2023 campaign against Nigeria on July 21st, before facing debutants Ireland on July 26th, and closing out the group against co-hosts Australia on July 31st.

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