Milicic gets flagging De Vanna back on track
Lisa De Vanna doesn't want to go to a fourth Women's World Cup if she's just there to make up the numbers in what's bound to be a strong Matildas squad.
The veteran attacker rarely lacks self-belief, but a lack of football, fitness problems and a new coach had her doubting herself heading into the Cup of Nations tournament.
But a goal and a strong performance in Australia's 4-1 thrashing of South Korea at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday night has reminded De Vanna she can still contribute to the Matildas' cause.
It was a different story before the Matildas' first match under recently appointed coach Ante Milicic last Thursday night against New Zealand.
Left out of the starting line-up after an indifferent season with W-League champions Sydney FC, De Vanna admits she wasn't herself when she came on as a second-half substitute in Australia's 2-0 win.
"I was lacking a bit of confidence. I didn't really want to get on the ball," the 34-year-old forward said.
"That comes with lack of game time, that comes with not training week in week out, it comes in with a new coach coming in … there are a lot of issues being injured and then you start doubting yourself.
"You're at this certain age and you think 'can you push, can you push?', and you start questioning who you are as a person, so that's been more of a mental battle."
However, De Vanna was recalled to the Matildas' starting side on Sunday night, and a quick pre-match talk with Milicic put her on the right track.
"Ante came up to me and said 'just be you' and I thought 'that pressure is a little bit off, I'm just going to work hard and the rest will come'," she said.
"Everything else will come but right now it's just trying to get my body right for the next three months."
With a CV that includes 145 caps and 46 goals, De Vanna knows she can still be a vital part of the Matildas squad but doesn't want any favours in terms of selection for the June-July World Cup in France.
"I just don't want to be a number at a World Cup. I want to go out there and know I can contribute and be an important player to the team," she said.
"Ante's made it clear, you don't waste a session, don't waste an opportunity so no-one's really complacent, not even Sammy Kerr, as long as she keeps banging in the goals she's got a spot.
"Right now you've got to go out and prove to him that you want to get on that plane (to France), and I think it's great because now you see a different mindset with a lot of girls. He's not given anything to anyone."
Milicic was thrilled with De Vanna's contribution on Sunday night.
"She genuinely loves the game." Milicic said.
"I'm really pleased for the goal because I think that will give her a lot of confidence moving forward and at the same time the amount of work she got through was something the she really needed."