Christine Sinclair's return highlights Canadian camp roster heading into friendlies

·3 min read
Canadian forward Christine Sinclair will make her return to the national team in April after missing the SheBelieves Cup due to injury in February. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images - image credit)
Canadian forward Christine Sinclair will make her return to the national team in April after missing the SheBelieves Cup due to injury in February. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images - image credit)

Canadian captain Christine Sinclair is back in the mix as the Canadian women's national team gathers in England ahead of two European friendlies later this month.

Sinclair, international soccer's all-time leading goal scorer with 186 goals, who sat out the SheBelieves Cup in February due to injury, was among the 26 players called to camp by head coach Bev Priestman as Canada continues to take shape ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July.

The No. 8 Canadians play world No. 31 Wales on April 9 at Leckwith Stadium in Cardiff before an April 13 match-up with No. 6 England at Stoke City Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent. It will be a homecoming of sorts for Priestman, a native of Consett, England, who spent the last two and a half years as an assistant with England.

"The matches against Wales and England in April are again critical to our preparation for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games," Priestman said in a statement.

"If you look at both teams, they have had success against top-10 teams over the past two years and obviously England were semifinalists at the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019, which will be a great Tier 1 test to assess players and where this group is at. I'm excited to get back in with the group and continue building towards where we want to be come the summer."

WATCH | Analyzing Canada's performance at SheBelieves Cup:

Last chance to gage potential Olympic roster

This is Canada's second camp in 2021 after being idle for 11 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and various travel and health restrictions. It's also perhaps the last chance to get on Priestman's radar look before the team is chosen for the Olympic Games.

The SheBelieves Cup, Priestman's first tournament in charge since taking the reins in October, wasn't a true evaluation of the Canadian squad as it was beset by player issues and availability issues.

They won one game — 1-0 stoppage time win over Argentina — and lost two, a hard-fought 1-0 loss to the No. 1 United States and a 2-0 defeat to fellow No. 8 Brazil.

While there were positives in the tournament, such as four players earning their first caps and younger players getting valuable playing time, goal scoring continued to be an issue. Dating back to February 2020, Canada has been outscored 9-3 in its last seven matches (1-4-2). Even more worrisome is their recent record against top-10 teams - 0-8-2, where they've been outscored 20-3.

Kadeisha Buchanan, Canada's reigning player of the year and a standout centre back with Olympique Lyonnais, is unavailable for medical reasons.

The only new face to the camp is uncapped Cloe Lacasse, a 27-year-old forward from Sudbury, Ont., who plays in Portugal for Benfica.

Canada's roster:

Goalkeepers: Rylee Foster (Liverpool FC), Stephanie Labbé (Rosengård), Erin McLeod (Orlando Pride)

Defenders: Lindsay Agnew (North Carolina Courage), Gabrielle Carle (Florida State University), Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), Vanessa Gilles (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Ashley Lawrence (Paris Saint-Germain), Jayde Riviere (University of Michigan), Jade Rose (Super REX Ontario), Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham Hotspur)

Midfielders: Samantha Chang (University of South Carolina), Jessie Fleming (Chelsea FC), Julia Grosso (University of Texas at Austin), Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), Quinn (OL Reign FC), Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash), Desiree Scott (Kansas City NWSL), Sarah Stratigakis (University of Michigan)

Forwards: Janine Beckie (Manchester City FC), Jordyn Huitema (Paris Saint-Germain), Cloe Lacasse (Benfica), Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), Deanne Rose (University of Florida), Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns), Evelyne Viens (Sky Blue FC),

Unavailable due to medical reasons: Kadeisha Buchanan (Olympique Lyonnais), Adriana Leon (F, West Ham United), Kailen Sheridan (GK, Sky Blue FC), Sabrina D'Angelo (Vittsjö GIK), Diana Matheson (MF, Kansas City NWSL), Bianca St-Georges (D, Chicago Red Stars)