Ball at her feet: Kerr on track for World Cup return

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Ball at her feet: Kerr on track for World Cup return

By Vince Rugari

Sam Kerr appears to be on track for her long-awaited Matildas return on Monday night after joining the team’s first training session since their stunning demolition of Canada.

Tony Gustavsson’s side were back on the field on Thursday at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre after two days of recovery and rest — and while they didn’t do much, Kerr at least had a ball at her feet for the first time since her injury on the eve of the World Cup.

She stretched with her teammates to the tune of Shania Twain’s Man! I Feel Like A Woman!, performed a few light juggles and then walked with the rest of the group before the media’s permitted 15-minute window elapsed, and all prying eyes were kicked out.

The only absentee was Kyah Simon, who is towards the tail end of her rehab from an ACL injury and earmarked for minutes off the bench only during the knockout phase.

Football Australia staff said Thursday’s session was always intended to be a light one as the Matildas slowly gear up for Monday night’s round of 16 clash against Denmark, with heavier hitouts planned for Friday and then another in Sydney on Saturday, which will be held entirely behind closed doors.

Kerr had declared herself available for their 4-0 rout of Canada, which took them to the top of Group B, but never warmed up with the team before the match and, in the end, wasn’t needed.

Sam Kerr appears to be on track for her first World Cup appearance.

Sam Kerr appears to be on track for her first World Cup appearance.Credit: Getty

Gustavsson revealed that a pre-game talk from the Chelsea superstar inspired her teammates to get the job done against the Olympic champions without her so that she could have another full week to recover from her left calf injury.

It was a best-case scenario that sets up the possibility of Kerr linking up with an Australian attack that is now firing on all cylinders after two sluggish performances against Ireland and Nigeria.


“I was informed that she’s available but for limited minutes, and we agreed together to say if we can win us a week for her, to not risk her to re-injure herself, we’re going to try to protect her and try to win without her. That was always the aim,” Gustavsson said after the win over Canada.


“If we would have been in a situation where we would have needed her, she was willing to take that risk and come on. But she was also very clear: let’s not get to that point. And we did it, and I think we’re all happy about that.

“It felt almost like, even before the game, that the players were so convinced to do it without her that we kind of said, let’s just focus on that first and then we go to that option if need be.

“I also want to be clear just because Sam wasn’t on the park, doesn’t mean she wasn’t in the team tonight. The way she leads the team and what she gives to the team off the pitch as well — not just in the locker room, on the buses, in the hotel, in the meeting room, in the meetings — that is massive leadership.”

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