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Southern United has retained the majority of its national women’s league squad for this season which begins on Saturday against Canterbury United at Logan Park Turf.
But the gains and losses stick out.
Notable absentees are Mikaela Hunt, Shontelle Smith, Mikayla Gray, Kirsty Hayr and Jade Middleditch.
However, Southern has continued its recent trend of attracting quality youth to Dunedin.
That includes two former Canterbury players — Macey Fraser and Blair Currie — from the New Zealand team that finished third at the Under-17 Women’s World Cup two years ago.
Fraser is a highly touted midfielder who has won the league twice with Canterbury United.
She makes the move south after spending the winter at Wellington’s Ole Academy, training with boys.
Currie joins what looks to be a strong goalkeeping line-up after having spent time in the United States last year.
She will compete with Tessa Nicol for the starting spot.
Nicol was a key player in Southern’s run to the playoffs in 2017, although has missed the past two seasons, notably with a serious knee injury last year.
Kate Guildford also returns to the side, having missed recent summer seasons while playing at college in the United States.
New captain Rose Morton, who replaces Hunt, also acts as essentially a new signing. The midfielder, who has played for both New Zealand under-17 and under-20, missed all but one game last year through injury.
She adds quality, while last year’s other national age-grade team signing, Hannah Mackay-Wright, is also back.
Head coach Ignacio Sande said it was great to be attracting those types of players to Dunedin.
"I think we now have players like Hannah and Rose, Macey and Blair, who have been involved in NZ Football at under-17 and under-20.
"I think it’s great for the young players who join the squad to look to them.
"They’re doing their best to try to help the younger ones too.
"So I think they’re going to add to the whole community and those young girls we have."
Morton and Mackay-Wright will form a leadership group which also includes stalwarts Chelsea Whittaker and Renee Bacon.
A handful of other familiar faces are back too in the likes of goal-scorers Amy Hislop, Ruby Anderson and Emily Morison, as well as experienced defender Kelsey Kennard.
Sande is happy with the squad and said while Canterbury posed a huge challenge to open the season, he was looking forward to starting.
The league will be played over just one round this year, the top two teams playing off in a final on December 20.
Southern United Women