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Former coach stands between United and victory

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Canberra United player Nicole Sykes calls for a stoppage after teammate Sally Shipard was injured. Shipard will miss the rest of the season.

Canberra United player Nicole Sykes calls for a stoppage after teammate Sally Shipard was injured. Shipard will miss the rest of the season. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

When Canberra United takes on Perth Glory on Saturday, it will be a familiar face they will be trying to get past in goal.

Maja Blasch was United's assistant goalkeeper coach under Paul Jones, but at Intiga Stadium, the 22-year-old will be pulling the gloves on for the Glory in her first W-League game in more than three years.

Blasch, Canberra's keeper in the inaugural season, signed on to replace Perth's Carly Telford, after the English national team goalie broke her hand early on in the Glory's 7-5 win against Sydney FC last weekend.

The news of Blasch's signing took Canberra coach Jitka Klimkova by surprise on Thursday.

"That's unique, I don't think it could happen in Europe, this situation," Klimkova said of a coach playing for a rival team.

"[The] good thing for us, we know her, we know her strengths, we know her weaknesses.

"For sure it's a great opportunity for her [but] we will try to score some goals in her net."

While Blasch also knows the United keepers well, Klimkova is only looking at the things in her control as Canberra experiences a run of bad luck, with the news of Sally Shipard being ruled out for the season, and some unlucky timing.

That timing includes the resignation of Melbourne Victory coach Mike Mulvey to take over the Brisbane Roar in the A-League days after he coached the Victory side to a win over Canberra.

That loss left Canberra needing to win all three of its remaining games to guarantee a place in the top four, with away games against the top-two sides Perth and Brisbane, and a home game against Western Sydney. While it drew 1-1 with Western Sydney earlier in the season, Megan Rapinoe has been spotted training with the Wanderers this week, and with room for them to sign the US women's national team star as a marquee player, there is every chance she could represent some more unlucky timing for Canberra on January 5.

Saturday: Perth Glory v Canberra United, at Intiga Stadium, Perth, 7pm.

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