United are seventh and battling to avoid missing finals for the second straight season. They have just five games to force their way back inside the top four.
O’Sullivan has been one of the best players in the league this summer and her recommitment is the shot in the arm the club needed to make a charge for finals.
“With Paige going it freed up an international spot and Heather was keen so I said yes and I’m happy with the decision,” O’Sullivan said.
“I thought about it for a while, obviously I want to see my family as well at some stage, but I’m enjoying it out here and having a good time with the girls and love playing here.
“This is my first Christmas away from home and I couldn’t be further away in Australia but at least I get to spend it with friends and my boyfriend came over too. It’s really weird, it doesn’t even feel like Christmas but I’ve FaceTimed my family this morning.
“I have a flight booked but it’s very flexible. I’m going into Ireland camp on January 15 and then we have games against Belgium and Spain.”
O’Sullivan and Canberra skipper Rachel Corsie spent Christmas lunch with teammate Nikki Flannery’s family. Corsie said it was tough to see Nielsen leave but was thrilled O’Sullivan is staying.
“I’m close with both of those players and it was sad thinking we were going to lose Denise so the team will really get a lot of energy knowing she’s staying,” Corsie said.
“Maybe that bit of positive news could be that little extra edge we need to push on in these final few games.
“We’ve put the pressure on ourselves now, there’s no room for any more errors, we need to be on top of our game and Denise is crucial to how we play.”
O’Sullivan added: “It’s a must-win game for us, Brisbane are good team and have some very good individual players so it’ll be a tough game but we’re up for it.”
W-LEAGUE ROUND NINE
Thursday: Canberra United v Brisbane Roar at McKellar Park, 7:30pm.
Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times