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Matildas star Fowler backed despite club issues

Ed Bourke -

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson says Mary Fowler's significant lack of playing time for Manchester City is not troubling him as the young star continues to perform in green and gold.

Fowler has not started for Man City in the WSL since mid-November, but Gustavsson suggested her performances for the Matildas would heap pressure on her club coach to provide more opportunities ahead of the tournament.

The 21-year-old and her European-based teammates flew out of Melbourne early on Thursday morning to rejoin their clubs only hours after sealing qualification for Paris with an emphatic 10-0 win in the second leg against Uzbekistan.

Fowler played a starring role after shifting to the left wing, constantly threatening with her well-weighted crosses before adding a goal of her own in Australia's first-half onslaught.

Mary Fowler is congratulated by Australian Olympic champion Cathy Freeman after the Matildas secured qualification for the Paris Games with the 10-0 win over Uzbekistan at Marvel Stadium. Picture: William WEST / AFP

Mary Fowler is congratulated by Australian Olympic champion Cathy Freeman after the Matildas secured qualification for the Paris Games with the 10-0 win over Uzbekistan at Marvel Stadium. (Image: William WEST/AFP)

Matildas and Man City teammate Alanna Kennedy said Fowler was able to perform despite her lack of club minutes because of how settled she was in the Matildas environment.

"I think for Mary it's an exciting time for her, for all of us to come back, just to be able to play in front of all the fans and play for Australia … we just love it," Kennedy said.

"For her, I'm sure she's so comfortable and just feels the freedom to be able to express herself on the pitch, regardless of whether she's had the minutes at City or not.

"She's just an unbelievable player. I think whenever she gets an opportunity, she's always going to create something in any game that she plays."

Gustavsson would not comment specifically on Fowler's plight at Man City but said it would affect players' confidence if they were unable to play regular minutes for their clubs.

Fowler (right) hasn't appeared for more than 31 minutes in a WSL game for Manchester City since November 12. Picture: Justin Setterfield / Getty Images

Fowler (right) hasn't appeared for more than 31 minutes in a WSL game for Manchester City since November 12. (Image: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

But he said strong performances for the Matildas could force the hands of club managers, who were not ignorant towards international football.

"As a national team coach, you are obviously not in control of that … but what I am very, very impressed with is there's a lot of players that have lacked the minutes coming into this environment but they still perform, and that I think is credit to the player but I also think is credit to our environment," Gustavsson said.

"Because when you come in with a lack of minutes and form and maybe lack confidence, but you come into this environment where you're valued, you trust the team … the tactics and you're able to perform with limited minutes – that makes me a little bit less concerned.

"I would love to see more minutes, and I also think that club coaches watch international games, and I think a lot of our players with these two performances send some very clear messages back to clubs that 'I want to play'."

Ed Bourke - NCA NewsWire

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