Clare Hunt is determined to build on her W-League comeback as Canberra United start a challenging road towards finals.
The 21-year-old defender made her long-awaited return from injury in Canberra's 2-1 loss to Adelaide United on Sunday.
It was her first W-League match in more than three years, having endured multiple surgeries on both knees before a broken wrist kept her out of United's start to the 2020-21 season.
Hunt, who made 48 touches and two interceptions in her 78-minute stint, said she was excited to be back and have a foundation to launch from heading into the last month of the regular season.
"It was really good to be back. It's been three long years of hard work and resilience to come back from knee injuries and mishaps that have gone on," Hunt said.
"For me, it was a big achievement and something I've been working towards for a long time. I'm happy I could share that at the club I've always played for, which is Canberra.
"I think it was a good hit out for me, obviously the first game back you make some errors and fall short in some situations.
"But I think the more I learn now, the better I can be at the back end of the season, and that's a goal for us as a group as well.
"Where we are now is not where we're going to be at the back end of the season. That's just learning from every game, working towards what we need to work towards to improve as a group. That was big for us on the weekend."
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Hunt will have to wait until at least next Sunday for her next hitout, with United to meet Melbourne Victory at Epping Park after this round's bye.
The W-League released the remaining fixtures for the season on Wednesday, although those matches are subject to change amid COVID-19 developments.
United, who sit fourth, will close out the season against the Brisbane Roar, Perth Glory Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC - with coach Vicki Linton saying it'll be a challenging road to finals.
"It's a hard run home, that's going to toughen us up and make us better so that's good," Linton said.
"We've had a few days to refresh, that's what the bye week gives you. It's good timing.
"We don't love bye weeks in terms of the rhythm of playing, so I do think it's good having five straight games."
CANBERRA UNITED FIXTURES
Round nine: Bye.
Round 10: Melbourne Victory v Canberra United at Epping Park, Sunday February 28 4.05pm.
Round 11: Canberra United v Brisbane Roar at Viking Park, Sunday March 7 4.05pm.
Round 12: Perth Glory v Canberra United at Dorrien Gardens, Thursday March 11 9.05 pm.
Round 13: Newcastle Jets v Canberra United at Newcastle No. 2 Sportsground, Saturday March 20 6.35pm.
Round 14: Canberra United v Sydney FC, TBC.