The injuries are mounting for Canada coach Bev Priestman ahead of international friendlies in Spain against Argentina and Morocco.
Talismanic captain Christine Sinclair and influential fullback/midfielder Ashley Lawrence are the latest players sidelined. They join the missing Vanessa Gilles, Deanne Rose, Gabrielle Carle and Jayde Riviere, who will all watch Thursday's game with Argentina from a distance.
Midfielder Sarah Stratigakis has been summoned as an injury replacement. Priestman said the injuries to Sinclair and Lawrence, while not long-term, would have prevented them from seeing action in the current international window.
"For me, looking at the bigger picture, it definitely didn't make sense — particularly with Sinc, (to) put her on a plane all the way to Spain to not be able to feature," Priestman said of her 39-year-old skipper. "It's a shame."
Priestman looked for the positives, saying the absences will give others a chance to step up. But she knows what she is missing.
"They're all big names that are missing. It doesn't just have an effect on the field. It also has an effect off the field," she said. "But I've been incredibly happy with the players that have come in and stepped up. The environment seems to still be the environment that we know. But yeah it has an impact."
The seventh-ranked Canadian women play No. 31 Argentina on Thursday at Estadio Sanluqueno in Sanlucar de Barrameda and No. 76 Morocco on Monday at Estadio Municipal de Chapín in Jerez. The games come in the last international window before the Oct. 22 draw in Auckland for next year's FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Like Olympic champion Canada, Argentina and Morocco have qualified for the 2023 soccer showcase, which runs July 20 to Aug. 20 in Australia and New Zealand.
"A different test but still a test," Priestman said of the two opponents.
Argentina booked its ticket to the World Cup by virtue of its third-place finish at the Copa America Femenina in July in Colombia. The Argentines defeated No. 51 Paraguay 3-1 in the third-place playoff while No. 9 Brazil, the defending champion, edged No. 25 Colombia 1-0 in the final.
The Canadian women have won all five previous matches with Argentina, outscoring the South Americans 12-1. But Canada needed a 90th-minute goal by Stratigakis to prevail 1-0 when they met last time out, in February 2021 at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando.
Stratigakis's goal came on a goalmouth scramble after Argentina failed to clear a free kick launched into its penalty box.
The last three meetings, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2011 Pan American Games, were all decided by one goal.
Priestman sees Argentina as presenting "a totally different style than we're used to playing here (in CONCACAF)."
"It will be a different kind of test where we have to move the ball quickly, keep the ball. Be ruthless when we do get the chances because they'll defend well in the (penalty) box," she said.
Canada has played Morocco twice before, with both games in February 2001 while in camp in Rabat. Canada won the opener 4-0 and lost the rematch 1-0 two days later.
The Olympic champion Canadians are 8-2-3 this year with the losses coming to the top-ranked U.S. (1-0 in July in the CONCACAF W Championship final) and Spain (1-0 in February at the Arnold Clark Cup).
Star defender Kadeisha Buchanan returns after missing the September games Down Under.
Celtic forward Clarissa Larisey and University of Southern California midfielder Simi Awujo are back in camp after getting their first senior call-up in September.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2022
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press