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Early start to the W-League season spells tough choices for Grace Gill

Canberra United will play an A-League curtain-raiser as well as the W-League's first ever game at Vikings Park in the coming season.

The draw for the ''2014-15'' W-League season was released on Friday. It will start two months earlier than usual and wrap up by the end of 2014 to accommodate the Asian Cup, which Australia is hosting in January.

The mid-September start will have the league competing with winter football finals, forcing another Canberra United player to choose between sports.

Grace Gill has spent the past three off-seasons playing in the Canberra Women's AFL, and is in the ACT representative side, but with United's first game being played before the end of the winter football season, Gill said soccer will take precedence.

The midfielder is yet to re-sign with United, something she hopes will happen in the coming weeks, but is not prepared to balance two sports in the style of former teammate Ellyse Perry.

''It's disappointing because obviously I'd like to be able to play out the end of the local football season, as well as the soccer season, but the two do overlap,'' she said.


''Given that the W-League is a more professional organisation, and soccer is probably my number one sport, I'm not really in a position where I can juggle the two.''

While Perry balances playing national league soccer and cricket, something that forced her to move from Canberra United to Sydney FC two years ago, Gill said there was no comparison to be made.

''Ellyse Perry is in a different category of elite sports and she's really fortunate that she can manage the two,'' she said.

''At this point in time [women's Australian rules] football isn't at the level that soccer is, so I have to be a bit thoughtful in what I put my body through, and also in terms of looking after my place in the Canberra United team.''

The Asian Cup has presented scheduling challenges for Canberra, which will lose access to McKellar Park and Deakin Stadium from December, as they are training sites for the international competition.

It means United will play its first five home games at McKellar Park, the first being in round three on September 28, and the final game of the season at Vikings Park in Tuggeranong.

Chief executive Heather Reid hopes the venue will meet league requirements for finals football as well, with the grand final scheduled for December 21, as Canberra Stadium is also unavailable.

Big stadium experience is on the cards though, with United's draw including a match against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium as a curtain-raiser to the A-League, one of three W-League/A-League double headers the men's and women's Roar teams are playing during the season.

**Canberra fans hoping to catch a glimpse of Socceroos star Matthew Spiranovic after his impressive World Cup showing have been dealt a blow.

The Western Sydney Wanderers' centre-back will not make the trip to play Canberra FC next Wednesday night as he is booked in for surgery on an injured ankle that is expected to see him miss 10 weeks.

Meanwhile, Canberra teenager George Timotheou will have another opportunity to play against English Premier League players when Sydney FC play West Ham United in New Zealand on Saturday night.

The 16-year-old is travelling with the Sky Blues for the friendly tournament but was an unused substitute when they played Newcastle United on Wednesday.