Signing Williams is United’s No.1 priority

Canberra United goalkeeper Lydia Williams. Photo: Gary SchaferCanberra United chief executive Heather Reid says the retention of Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams is the club’s No.1 priority while the search for a new coach intensifies.

Williams missed all of last season because of a knee reconstruction, but has returned to full fitness with Swedish club Pitea IF and the national team, where she played in the second half of Australia’s 2-0 upset of France last weekend.

Reid returned this week from a working trip in Europe where she met with Williams and Canberra United defender Nicole Sykes, who is also in Sweden with Kristiantads DFF.

While Sykes has committed to hold down the left-side of United’s defence for the upcoming W-League campaign, Williams is weighing up her options as rival clubs attempt to pry the 25-year-old Tuggeranong junior away from her home town.

”Along with maintaining the bulk of last season’s squad, our recruitment will always start with the No.1 position, and as far as I’m concerned that’s Lydia Williams as our goalkeeper,” Reid said. ”She’s vitally important.

”As a foundation player, as the national goalkeeper, as a local person and as someone in that game against France, she’s extremely capable. The fact she’s been our co-captain for a couple seasons and a strong leader in our team, she’s someone we’d like to try and retain.” Both Sykes and Williams would most likely miss the opening couple of games for United as it clashes with the end of the Swedish season.

Another pressing issue is the appointment of a coach to replace championship winner Jitka Klimkova, who has taken over the New Zealand under-17 women’s national team.

Reid has four candidates – three from Australia and one from overseas – in contention for the role, with an announcement expected within the next fortnight once it is ratified by the Capital Football board.

With the start of the new season fast approaching at the end of October, Reid said it was important a decision was made soon.

”It’s important to confirm to the players who the coach is going to be so we can retain as much of last year’s squad as possible,” Reid said.

”We also want to continue discussions with players from overseas, so we can pick up our recruitment for two or three overseas players in the next month.”

Meanwhile in the men’s Canberra National Premier League, Belconnen United will look to stay in touch with the top two when it takes on surprise packet Woden Valley on Sunday.

Ladder leader Canberra FC and Canberra Olympic will be favourites in their respective away games with Monaro Panthers and Cooma Tigers, while cellar dweller Tuggeranong United and Canberra City square off in Saturday’s only fixture.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.