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Shipard ruled the best as United guns for Kobe

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Fleta Page

Sally Shipard.

Sally Shipard. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

Canberra United's Sally Shipard was named female Footballer of the Year at the Australian Football Awards at a gala dinner in Sydney on Wednesday night.

This year Shipard also won the Julie Dolan Medal for player of the year following United's undefeated 2011-12 W-League season, then helped Bayer Leverkusen avoid relegation in the German Bundesliga.

But United faces the possibility of taking on the stars of Japanese club Kobe Leonessa without its midfield maestro in the first game of the International Women's Club Championship on Thursday. Shipard admitted she was feeling apprehensive about her physical preparation when the team departed for Japan.

''I'm not giving my own situation too much thought because I think if I did, I'd be quite concerned,'' Shipard said.

''I'm kind of seeing [the Japan trip] as a really positive thing for the team as opposed to whether or not I'm ready to be over there, because it's definitely not the case with where I'm at.

''I'm just going to be there for the girls and try and get as much out of the experience as possible no matter how I'm feeling physically - we'll certainly gain a lot from the experience, both footballing and just the experience in general.''

Shipard, who has 62 Matildas caps, including the 2004 Olympic Games, 2007 World Cup and the winning 2010 Asian Cup team, has only played 20 minutes of soccer in the past six months after knee surgery.

She made her return as a substitute in Canberra United's 3-1 win over Adelaide three weeks ago, but did not recover in time for the following game. She was not permitted to play in their loss to Melbourne last weekend due to an earlier agreement with Matildas coach Tom Sermanni to not pick her for the national team.

Fellow Matildas player Stephanie Catley, of Melbourne Victory, won the under-20 female Footballer of the Year.

Brett Holman, of Aston Villa, won male Footballer of the Year, with Central Coast's goalkeeper, Mathew Ryan, winning his second consecutive under-20 Footballer of the Year gong.

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