Star United recruit debuts
Canberra United recruit Nikki Washington, centre, chats with teammates Hayley Raso, left, and Nicole Sykes, right. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
A whirlwind week will end with Nikki Washington making her W-League debut on Saturday. And Canberra United's international recruit is adamant jetlag and scorching heat won't stop her from making an immediate impact.
A former United States junior captain, Washington will play her first match for the defending champions just 48 hours after arriving in Australia.
And Canberra coach Jitka Klimkova hopes she can add a ''dangerous edge'' to the team's attack as they look to get their campaign on track.
Just five days ago, she was preparing to spend the US winter at home.
But now the speedy attacker will be given a chance to help get United's title bid back on track when it plays Sydney FC at Leichhardt Oval.
Klimkova was reluctant to throw Washington straight into the action after more than 20 hours on a plane. However, the 24-year-old wants a win to help her settle into her new surrounds.
''I'm still working out how to pronounce Canberra,'' Washington said. ''I don't really know any of the players or the coaches, but I've heard some really good things and I'm pretty excited to be here. I'm definitely not saying I'm over the jetlag, but the best way to get over it is to just get out there and train.''
Washington will join United for the next three games as cover for injured duo Ashleigh Sykes and Grace Gill.
If she impresses Klimkova enough, her contract could be extended for the remainder of the season.
It was United's chief executive, Heather Reid, and star midfielder Caitlin Munoz who were the masterminds behind recruiting Washington - a former No.5 pick in the WPS draft in the US and captain of the under-20s national side which won the World Cup in 2008.
While United was in Japan playing against the best club sides in the world, Munoz contacted former mentors in the US and discovered Washington was looking for a place to play in the off-season.
Recruiting her took just five days and she has secured her international clearance to play against Sydney.
But the rising international star isn't alone in suffering jetlag.
United returned to Canberra only on Monday after playing two games in the lucrative Japanese tournament between the world's best women's club teams.
There's no doubt the two losses on the road and Canberra's heat have taken it out of the players.
But Klimkova said the hectic schedule of travel and games could not be used as an excuse for a loss.
Canberra is outside the top four and lost its last match against Melbourne. However, Klimkova hopes experience against international stars will improve her team's title credentials.
''Japan was amazing but the goal of this season in the W-League … it's crazy busy,'' Klimkova said.
''Physically I know it's tiring but physiologically it will help us, and I'm sure we're ready for Sydney.
''Honestly, I didn't want Nikki on the field on Saturday because of her travel, but she wants to play and says she's good to play.
''She's another world champion in the team and she looks like she can add experience and excitement to our team - and that's what we need.''