Canberra United has lost another one of its key forwards after New Zealand international Paige Satchell signed with Sydney FC, leaving only three of the club's recognised attackers behind.
The 23-year-old, who represented the Football Ferns at the Tokyo Olympic Games, is the latest United player to depart the side ahead of the 2021-22 W-League season.
The season is due to begin on November 13, but United is yet to reveal any of its signings ahead of the competition's kick-off in three months.
Julie Dolan Medal winner Michelle Heyman is expected to return to the club, but the loss of Satchell, alongside Demi Koulizakis to Perth Glory and Nicki Flannery, who tore her ACL in May, is set to bite hard.
Heyman, Hayley Taylor-Young and versatile player Rachael Goldstein are the only attacking options currently on the club's roster.
Head coach Vicki Linton will be on the search to replace Flannery and Koulizakis in her forward line. However, the shift in Australian players to year-round European leagues means her pickings are slim.
Linton could still pull from the United States' NWSL, as its regular season is due to end in October, allowing players a tight window to make the move to Australia for the W-League season.
However, two weeks' quarantine and Australia's evolving COVID-19 situation, with the Delta strain causing snap and extended lockdowns nationwide, could be a deterrent for international stars to make the move.
This has already affected Glory's lineup, with Natalie Tobin backflipping on her signing with Perth due to the Covid climate and returning to captain her former club, Sydney.
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Newcastle Jets defender Tiana Jaber could be a possibility for the side, having made the move to Canberra's NPLW this year. The Belconnen United FC player is yet to be announced as a re-signing for the NSW side, who began unveiling its squad this week.
Last season's defensive roster, including North Carolina Courage player Kendall Fletcher, Clare Hunt, Lauren Keir, Isabella Foletta, Emma Ilijoski and 16-year-old Jessika Nash, are yet to be linked to any other W-League sides, too.
Canberra could also be without defender Jessie Rasschaert in 2021-22 after she made the move to Gold Coast United following the end of the W-League season to play in the Queensland NPLW.
Grace Maher, Laura Hughes, Bianca Galic, Ashlie Crofts and United Academy product Sasha Grove could return in green next season in the middle of the park if Linton gives them the call-up, as they have not been linked to other W-League outfits.
Similarly the side's goalkeepers, Sally James and Keeley Richards are yet to be announced as signings elsewhere. In January, James missed a number of W-League matches due to injury, but she has since returned to the pitch for Blacktown Spartans in the NSW NPLW. Her form, in the since-cancelled Sydney competition, also earned her a Matildas call-up in June to attend a transition camp in Sweden before the Olympic Games.
Linton will being hoping whoever makes up United's roster can build on last season's 3-0 semi-final loss to Sydney.
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