Maitland coach Keelan Hamilton was not expecting the return of experienced pair Sophie Stapleford and Kaitlin Radstaak when they meet New Lambton in an important clash at Alder Park on Friday night.
Three points separate the two sides at the bottom of the Newcastle Herald Women's Premier League ladder after five rounds. Maitland (3) are seventh and the Eagles (0) last.
"A win is very important for us in the sense that we've only had one win in five matches, so to make sure that we keep ourselves in the mix with the other teams above us we need to go and take three points," Hamilton said.
"I think it's also important from a belief perspective because I don't think we've played that badly yet but we definitely haven't got the results."
Stapleford, who plays in attack, has missed three games with a quadriceps injury and centre-back Radstaak (groin) was a late withdrawal for Maitland's 4-0 to loss to Newcastle Olympic last round and has not trained this week.
Hamilton told the Herald Stapleford would not play and Radstaak was "less than a 50 per cent chance".
On Saturday, Olympic host Charlestown. On Sunday, Warners Bay play Adamstown and Broadmeadow meet Mid Coast.
Azzurri have appointed 15s WPL coach Niko Papaspiropoulos as first-grade coach after Michael Lee stood down last week.