The Newcastle Jets have been boosted by the signing of Matildas midfielder Emily van Egmond ahead of their first home game of the A-League Women's season at McDonald Jones Stadium on Friday.
The Newcastle 28-year-old has made 110 appearances for the Matildas, including the full 90 minutes of last week's entertaining 1-1 draw with world superpowers USA in front of 20,495 screaming fans in her home town.
Van Egmond is a Jets original and has signed with Newcastle on a short-term deal ahead of the 2022 AFC Women's Asian Cup in India next month.
"Our [National Women's Soccer League] season in America came to an end," van Egmond said.
"We had the games against the USA and we've got our Asian Cup, which is coming up pretty quick, so it's really important for the national team to be getting games during this period. I missed quite a bit post-Olympics.
"It's home. I'm only going to be here for a short stint, so it's a no-brainer. I've got access to Newcastle Jets, which is obviously fantastic. They've been great since I've been home and I'm excited to play with the girls."
Van Egmond was just 15 in the Jets' first season of W-League in 2008-09. She played for her home-town club again between 2011 and 2014 before returning for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns. The Jets made the finals in the 2017-18 season after a nine-year absence.
The well-travelled midfielder plays in the NSWL in the United States and has played in Europe and in English Women's Super League.
"Obviously, there's something special about playing for your home town and we're fortunate enough here that we've got not only an A-League men's team but a women's team as well, so to be able to play here in front of friends and family is nice," van Egmond said.
"Some of these girls I've known since we were 12 years old, so it's good to have a kickaround with them again, and it's good to be back and to just play really."
Van Egmond has been back in Newcastle since the 2021 NWSL season finished and has been training with the Jets to stay fit ahead of the Asian Cup.
She will come into the starting side against newcomers Phoenix with Newcastle coach Ash Wilson planning to use the long-serving Matilda as much as possible.
"She's a fantastic player; a world-class player," Wilson said.
"She's a local girl, so for us to be able to secure her for this short period, even the small amount, is so invaluable, not only to the team and what she brings in terms of her quality, but obviously the experiences and knowledge she can pass onto new and younger players coming through.
"She's a Newcastle player at heart, so she always loves playing for this town, and you're going to see someone who has that good winning mentality that is going to just bring so much to what we're doing.
"She came off playing two full games with the Matildas. She's one of the players in there that a lot of the time is playing full minutes. She's a fit player. She's a competitive player, so we're going to use her as much as we can."
The exact amount of games she will play is not yet known and will depend on the Matildas schedule in the lead-up to the Asian Women's Cup.
"Definitely for all of December, and then we'll see how things go with the Matildas camp when they've got some things scheduled and we'll see what's available beyond that," Wilson said.
The Jets opened their season with a 3-1 loss to Sydney at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium last Saturday.
Van Egmond's presence will bring stability to the team as they chase their first points of the season against newcomers Wellington.
The match kicks off at 5.05pm and is the first of a club double-header. The men's match against Phoenix follows at 7.45pm.