Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson remains uncertain whether Sam Kerr will return from injury for Monday’s crucial World Cup match against Canada, with the co-hosts facing the prospect of an early exit from the tournament.
The Matildas’ World Cup campaign was dealt a massive blow via Thursday night’s 3-2 loss to Nigeria in Brisbane/Meaanjin, the result leaving them in third place on the Group B standings.
Nigeria and Canada hold down the top two spots on four points, with the Matildas a point behind.
A victory over Olympic champions and world number seven Canada in Melbourne/Naarm on Monday night will guarantee the Matildas passage through to the round of 16.
They are still a chance of advancing if they draw with Canada, although they would have to rely on Nigeria losing to winless Ireland and the final goal difference standings in Group B.
Kerr, Australia’s all-time leading goal scorer, injured her left calf the day before the opening match against Ireland and has not properly trained in public since.
Had the Matildas secured a win against Nigeria, they would have advanced to the next round with a match to spare and could have afforded to rest Kerr in the Canada fixture.
Asked after the loss to Nigeria whether Kerr would be a chance to play Canada, Gustavsson said: “All I can say now is that I hope so.”
He added it was unlikely the Matildas could make a call on Kerr’s availability until as late as the night before the match.
“It might even be we have to test her on game day. That’s how tight it is,” Gustavsson said.
Gustavsson said Kerr would be putting her hand up to play.
Of course she will. That’s going to be her mindset and that’s what I love about Sam,” he said.
“She’s going to give anything she can to be out there. She deserves to be out there and if she can be out there she will be out there.
“We have to come up with a plan together to see what’s the best to maximise the minutes she has if she’s available.”
Mary Fowler should return from concussion and will be a welcome inclusion after the Matildas largely lacked a clinical edge against Nigeria.
Canada defeated the Matildas twice in Australia last year, winning 1-0 in Brisbane and 2-1 in Sydney/Gadigal respectively.
Source : ABC