Matildas fans had their hearts in their mouths during Sam Kerr's 15-minute cameo against Denmark on Monday night, with many questioning the wisdom of bringing her onto the field while already up 2-0. However the star striker revealed they were planning to pull a similar move last week against Canada but decided against it when the score blew out to 4-0.
Kerr played her first minutes of the Women's World Cup on Monday night, coming on late in the piece as the Matildas won 2-0 to reach the quarter-finals. While the overwhelming majority of fans were delighted to see her back in action after a troubling calf injury, many questioned why coach Tony Gustavsson would risk playing her when victory was all-but assured.
Speaking after the match, Gustavsson said a lengthy deliberation resulted in the coaching staff deciding it was best to ease Kerr back into game time ahead of potentially longer minutes later in the tournament. "We had a lot of talks with Sam about when we used her and if she needed minutes to get ready mentally or physically to get ready for the next game," Gustavsson said. "That means there's a risk, and how much are you willing to risk? It's a tough decision."
Kerr revealed afterwards that there was a similar plan in place to bring her on late in the match against Canada. “I was going to play last game. The girls smashed it,” she told Channel 7.
“They didn’t need me. We thought we would give it a rest. Today there was the opportunity that I wouldn’t play if the girls smashed it. We thought it was best for me and the team. The girls absolutely killed it. I’m so proud of them. Me coming on personally it was just a big relief after a big three weeks.”
— 7Sport (@7Sport) August 7, 2023
When asked later if she will start in the Matildas' quarter-final clash with France on Saturday, Kerr remained coy. "I mean, I have a plan," she said. "The physios have a plan, I asked them if I could run after the game and they said no, so I'm sure I'll just be following their plan like I have the last few weeks."
Sam Kerr laughs off scary moment in Matildas win
There was a scary moment during Kerr's cameo when she slipped on the turf and went down at an awkward angle. But she laughed it off afterwards and said she was fine.
"I have terrible groins and just fell over like a normal thing," she said. "I think it's just (under) a microscope, because I've been injured the last three weeks. But it's nothing."
Gustavsson, who was seen gesturing towards Kerr after the slip, said: “I know I can tend to swear too much at times when I get passionate, but today I’ll try to stay away from that. I got very nervous. I didn’t see the slip until she was on the floor. But when I saw that obviously you go: ‘Oh!’
“And then straight away communicate with her: ‘How are you doing, you need to come off? You good?’ She wanted to stay on so hopefully that means she’s okay.”
Fans flocked to social media to question why the Matildas would risk Kerr re-injuring her calf.
— Clayton Traynor ⭕️ (@Clayto89) August 7, 2023
Yeah strange move tbh
— MikeT (@wolfe_au) August 7, 2023
Probably need to get some match fitness up and blow out a few cobwebs incase they go through to next round has t done a lot of training
— Steve (@Sharky_Wattsy) August 7, 2023
So no one complains that she didn’t play… but yes I agree she should have been kept off at 2-0
— LozC! 💙💛🦅 (@lozza929406) August 7, 2023
If Sam Kerr really has been injured why bring her in now? #FIFAWWC
— Chris Hockman (@ChrisHSport) August 7, 2023
Why would you even contemplate risking Sam Kerr 2 nil up 🤯
— Jay Kay (@JK7crow) August 7, 2023
What one earth is the point of risking Sam Kerr's injury by putting on her when 2 goals up? #Matildas
— John Smith (my fake name obviously) (@imvoting_no) August 7, 2023
Matildas delight in Sam Kerr's return ahead of World Cup quarters
The Matildas were calm and clinical in dispatching Denmark on Monday night, with Caitlin Foord scoring in the first half and Hayley Raso in the second. Australia have had six goal scorers so far this tournament - Foord, Raso, Steph Catley, Mary Fowler, Emily van Egmond and Alanna Kennedy - and now they've got their superstar striker back.
"It's incredible," vice-captain Catley said about Kerr's return. "How many times can you get to a quarter-final and then add your best player, one of the best players in the world back into your team, your captain?"
Foord said: "Sam was obviously ready to get some minutes and it was a massive boost for us to have her back and not only for us, I think for her as well, this is her dream as well as she plays a massive part in our team. It helped boost the team even more and I think looking ahead, it's pretty scary to know that now she's back on the team and she's going to be a part of that with us."
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