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updated: 2/14/2018 10:06 PM

Ellis picks 26 to preliminary US roster for tournament

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Morgan Brian and Rose Lavelle are returning to the U.S. women's national team ahead of next month's SheBelieves Cup after dealing with injuries last year.

Brian, in France playing for Lyon, will not take part in training camp in Orlando, Florida, but will be available for the SheBelieves Cup roster. Brian had knee and groin injuries last year, while Lavelle struggled with a hamstring problem. Both missed last month's training camp and it was unclear how much Lavelle would be able to participate.

The 26-player roster was announced Wednesday by coach Jill Ellis. The list will be cut to 23 for the tournament, which opens on March 1 against Germany at Columbus, Ohio.

In addition to the top-ranked U.S. team and No. 2 Germany, the tournament includes No. 3 England and No. 6 France. Matches will also be played at Orlando and Harrison, New Jersey.

The roster includes newcomer Hailie Mace, a UCLA senior. Mace had 15 goals and three assists last season for the Bruins, who played in the College Cup final.

A versatile player, Mace played defense for the U.S. under-23 team.

"She's just fiercely competitive and I watch her play and she's speaking, she's confident, and I don't think she'll be overwhelmed by the situation," Ellis said on a conference call with reporters.

Three injured players were left off the roster: defender Becky Sauerbrunn (foot), forward Tobin Heath (ankle) and Samantha Mewis (knee). Ellis also said that she would have called in goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, but she is rehabbing from a quadriceps strain.

Wth the key absences, Ellis said she would look to develop "depth and flexibility."

"At this point it's about making sure that our players have a solid understanding of their relationships on the field and their roles," the coach said.

The SheBelieves Cup will be a challenging tune-up for World Cup qualifying this fall. The United States is the defending World Cup champion as the team looks to next summer's tournament in France.

"Last year was (about) the bigger picture," Ellis said. "Now we start to narrow."

Carli Lloyd enters the tournament needing just two goals to reach 100.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Jane Campbell (Houston), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago).

Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (NC), Tierna Davidson (Stanford), Sofia Huerta (Chicago), Hailie Mace (UCLA), Kelley O'Hara (Utah), Casey Short (Chicago), Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit; 8/0), Emily Sonnett (Sydney, Australia)

Midfielders: Morgan Brian (Lyon, France), Julie Ertz (Chicago), Lindsey Horan (Portland), Rose Lavelle (Washington), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue), Allie Long (Seattle), Andi Sullivan (Washington)

Forwards: Crystal Dunn (Chelsea, England), Ashley Hatch (Melbourne, Australia), Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue), Alex Morgan (Orlando), Christen Press (Houston), Mallory Pugh (Washington), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle), Lynn Williams (NC)

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