Canberra United star uses overseas launch pad
Nicole Sykes is congratulated after scoring a goal against Newcastle. Photo: Jay Cronan
Canberra United's player of the year Nicole Sykes is poised to use an overseas stint to launch her international career, and coach Jitka Klimkova has backed the defender to burst into the Matildas.
Sykes was rewarded on Thursday night for her strong W-League season, claiming the player of the year and the players' player awards at United's presentation night.
In a season where Canberra missed the finals for the first time, failing to defend their championship, Klimkova declared Sykes the ''stand-out best'' player.
The coach has backed the speedy 21-year-old to break on to the international stage in the coming seasons. But Klimkova believes experience in Europe or the US is crucial to getting a Matildas call-up.
A host of United players are keen to play in Sweden, Germany and the US during the W-League off-season and Klimkova will help them find clubs in the coming weeks.
''We've talked about how great it would be if she can go overseas and have some experience,'' Klimkova said of Sykes.
''That's our plan, to put her somewhere in Europe or the US, and I'm sure that experience can help her in the W-League and mainly for the Matildas.
''She's very smart and ambitious with her goals and I'm sure she will be a Matildas player in the future.
''She's easy to coach, she came back the fittest of all the players. Last season I had many, many choices [for the player of the year], but this season from the beginning to the end Nicole Sykes was the stand-out best.''
Sykes played every minute of every match and scored her first W-League goal to secure victory against the Newcastle Jets.
While she claimed the top prizes, young gun Hayley Raso scored two awards with the rising star prize and the 2XX supporters' player of the year.
The 18-year-old juggled her year 12 study with W-League commitments and Klimkova is confident Raso will continue her impressive rise.
''When she could really just focus on football, and finished school, that was a big step for her,'' Klimkova said. ''A lot of players this season improved so much, but Hayley Raso showed us how dangerous she can be in the future.''
Player of the year: NICOLE SYKES
Players’ player: NICOLE SYKES
Rising star: HAYLEY RASO
2XX supporters’ player of the year: HAYLEY RASO