Young guns making a push for Netball World Cup call-ups

Sarah Klau (R) has impressed during the early part of the Super Netball season David Mariuz/Getty Images

As the Netball World Cup inches ever closer, Australia's best players have been hitting the court in the most physical Super Netball season to date, and while the usual suspects have stepped up in the opening rounds, it's been young guns such as Emily Mannix and Sarah Klau who've caught Diamonds coach Lisa Alexander's eye.

With just under 60 days until the Diamonds take the court in their opening World Cup match, Alexander is expected to name her team at the end of the month and with just 12 spots available, no squad member can count themselves as safe.

Speaking exclusively with ESPN, Alexander said she'd been impressed with how well Australia's young players had been in stepping up during the opening rounds and were putting their hands up for selection.

"Many of them [Australian players] have actually [impressed], particularly the younger ones I think are putting their hands up and doing a great job out there," Alexander said. "I'm very pleased with Sasha Glasgow in her first week, getting out there on court and really taking the lead with Maria [Folau], so that was a very nice combination there.

"We've had two goalkeepers doing really, really well - Sarah Klau and Emily Mannix - really doing some great work in the opening two weeks. Very pleased with that and they're both squad members.

"So there's some good stuff out there and they're really giving the selectors a lot of headaches."

After the retirement of some of Australia's most experienced players in former captain Laura Geitz [71 caps], Sharni Layton [46 caps], Madi Robinson [61 caps] and Susan Pettitt [71 caps] last year, the Diamonds are set to name one of their most inexperienced sides in several years. The loss of the four sees 249 caps of experience disappear on both ends of the court, and especially in defence, but performances so far from the likes of Klau, Mannix and Kim Jenner show the future of the Diamonds are in good hands.

While current incumbent goalkeeper Courtney Bruce is forced to the Super Netball sideline through an elbow injury, six-time capped defender Mannix has stepped up in the opening rounds to make a strong impression on the competition. Player of the match in the Vixen's opening win over the Firebirds, and looking unstoppable in Round 2, the 25-year-old is sure to feel quietly confident as the team naming comes ever closer.

Uncapped squad member Klau will also be feeling good with her first three outings in 2019 at the Swifts.

But Alexander stressed there's more to the national team selection than just 'Net Points' and one off Super Netball performances.

"I don't think they'll [fans] be shocked [by the team selections]. I think what we've got to make very clear is, this team is not a Super Netball 'Net Points' team that we pick," Alexander told ESPN.

"There's a very deliberate strategy around putting together a team that's going to play together very well in a tournament situation. So the selectors of course look at current form - and it's very important - but we also have to take into account international experience and of course performances in Test matches and at camps.

"It's not as simple as watching each week and just picking a team from each round, it's much more complicated than that, and I think it's very important to make sure our fans understand that."

Looking to repeat their World Cup efforts of 2015, Alexander will have less experience to work with this time around with only one player, current captain Cailtlin Bassett, from the current squad with more than 50 international caps to their name. More worryingly, Bassett spent most of the off-season sidelined with a wrist injury.

Ten weeks on the sideline clearly had an effect on the vastly experienced shooter with Bassett struggling in the opening match of the season. But Alexander remains optimistic Bassett will only get stronger and more confident as the weeks progress.

"It hasn't been easy for her. I think after that first round she would have liked to improve - the whole team would have liked to improve," Alexander said. "She was definitely better in the second game, taking the ball strongly, feeling quite confident - her shooting was quite accurate.

"But she'll just get better each week as she plays more games after being out for so long and also just getting that timing right with her teammates on that attack end. That's just going to take a little bit of time as well. They'll keep working on it and we're very happy with the way she's tracking at the moment."

With a few more weeks until the team is decided, young players like Klau and Mannix will have to wait to see if they've done enough at Diamonds camp and in Super Netball to earn a World Cup call up.