Australia are ready to unleash Sam Kerr from the start against England

Australia are ready to unleash Sam Kerr from the start against England, as Matildas skipper reveals the plan was always to get her fit for the World Cup semi-final after recovering from a calf injury

  • Sam Kerr is yet to start a game at the Women’s World Cup
  • The Matildas skipper came on as second half substitute against France
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England face the prospect of Australia’s star player Sam Kerr making her first start of the World Cup against them on Wednesday, with the player revealing the plan has always been to get her fit for the semi-final.

Kerr, who looked in no trouble after playing 55 minutes of football in the quarter final against France, said she felt ‘ready to go’, having shrugged off the calf injury she sustained in training before the tournament.

The Chelsea striker, 29, said after the team defeated France on penalties: ‘When I hurt my calf, the plan was to always to [try to] be ready for a semi-final, the final. 

‘So I could have [started against France], but who knows what could have happened? The girls have been smashing it and absolutely dominating.

‘I was ready to go, but we’ve had a plan this whole tournament and we just had to stick to it.

Sam Kerr could make the her first start of the tournament against England on Wednesday

The Aussie superstar came off the bench in the quarter-final against France and scored a penalty in the shoot-out in Brisbane 

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‘That was part of the plan, to get 20 minutes against Denmark to make me feel better for this game and now with another, what, 65 minutes, I feel better for it and I’ll have more training under my belt. 

‘So I feel ready to go. I think with everything that’s been going on, the best thing for [the France game] was the plan we did and the plan we followed.’

Australia is currently in a state of Matildas-mania, with the question of Kerr’s fitness being the nation’s most hotly debated topic since she pulled up with a pain in her calf at 9am on July 19, at the team’s Queensland Sports and Athletic Centre base in Brisbane.

Australian digital sports publisher Keepup revealed on Monday that the nation’s manager Tony Gustavsson was left with only 11 hours between her sustaining the injury and the deadline for the submission of his World Cup squad to decide if Kerr should be on his squad list.

He had already taken one gamble in including striker Kyah Simon, who was in the latter stages of her rehab from an ACL injury. 

The fact Kerr was not limping when seen in public clearly indicated that she had not severely injury her left calf. 

But Australia was thrown into a state of panic when young midfielder Kyra Cooney-Cross, in a slip of the tongue, said: ‘It’s unfortunate that Sam tore her calf.’

The fact that Kerr still looked strong after playing 35 minutes of normal time plus extra time against the French in Brisbane, before converting her penalty in the shoot-out, does seems to suggest that starting her against Sarina Wiegman’s England would not be a huge gamble.

A press conference on Monday with two of the teams players – Lydia Williams and Tameka Yallop – was preceded by an announcement that two stadiums in the Sydney area – combined capacity 50,000 would be screening Wednesday’s semi-final.

The Lionesses take on the Matildas in Sydney with a place in the World Cup final at stake

Kerr missed the group stage with a calf injury she picked up just before the start of the tournament but recovered to play 10 minutes in the Round of 16 clash against Denmark 

Williams, the reserve goalkeeper and Matildas’ most experienced player was asked if the emotional and physical exertion of Saturday’s quarter final, including a 17-minute shoot-out, had left the Matildas ‘cooked.’

She said: ‘We have the best medical staff that we can. It’s no coincidence that they have been around us for eight years. 

‘They know how each person ticks and what we need. 

‘We’re going to go into the next game as fit as we can be. We also have resilience and belief in each other and as team that we show that. It’s something unmatched.’

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