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Kadeisha Buchanan (L) of Canada vies for the ball with Samantha Kerr of Australia, during a Rio 2016 Olympic Games women's first round Group F football match Canada vs Australia at the Corinthians Arena, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 3, 2016.MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP / Getty Images

Canada goes into its second women's soccer game at the Rio Olympics with somewhat of a black cloud over its central defence. And for once, a yellow card may be welcome.

Shelina Zadorsky is suspended after being red-carded in Wednesday's 2-0 win over Australia while fellow centre back partner Kadeisha Buchanan is on a yellow card, meaning she is one caution away from a one-game ban. Yellow cards are not expunged until the semifinal stage of the tournament.

Rebecca Quinn came into the Australia game to bolster the defence after Zadorsky's ejection and is expected to start Saturday against 93rd-ranked Zimbabwe in place of Zadorsky.

The 20-year-old Buchanan is a key player for 10th-ranked Canada, an athletic and physical defender named the best young player at last summer's World Cup and listed on the 10-player shortlist for the 2015 FIFA Ballon d'Or award.

In truth, it would likely aid Canada's cause if she picked up a yellow card against Zimbabwe. A win Saturday and Canada would likely secure qualification for the quarter-finals and while a second yellow would mean Buchanan would miss Tuesday's game against Germany in Brasilia, her disciplinary record would be clear for the knockout rounds.

The Zimbabweans may facilitate Buchanan getting the referee's attention. They are billed as a physical team and Canadian coach John Herdman said his players will be "matching fire with fire" when it came to physicality.

"The girls know it's a mindset they have to take into this game that we really impose ourselves physically. They've done the work in the gym, they've done all the work aerobically, physically to make sure they can push at a high tempo for 90-plus minutes."

Fullback Rhian Wilkinson is also on a yellow card – it was originally given to midfielder Jessie Fleming but was later switched – but Herdman has good replacement options in Allysha Chapman and Josee Belanger.

Herdman is no stranger to juggling centre backs. Four years ago in London, Emily Zurrer was hurt just prior to the Games and Candace Chapman was lost to injury late in the first game against Japan. Carmelina Moscato and Lauren Sesselmann were called into action, as well as alternate Marie-Eve Nault.

"I'm in better shape than I was last time," he joked Friday.

With just two days between games during pool play at the Olympic tournament, Herdman is keeping a close eye on his roster. The Canadian coach said he has squad permutations already mapped out through to the final with his sports science team constantly providing input on each player.

"It's very very individualized," he said. "You have to look and know [that] maybe the team that starts the tournament isn't the one that finishes it. Different players will come in at different times to bring energy when it's required."

His medical team has projections on how the tournament can impact each player in terms of fatigue.

"The only thing you've got to be careful with as a coach is that you don't rely on that too much," Herdman said. "You've still got to go with instinct and gut about form and how the team's shaping and sometimes who wants it more.

"Because no matter how old someone is or how injured they are, sometimes that will always outdo the physical ability and the skill."