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Mary Fowler at centre of brutal Matildas development amid Sam Kerr dramas

The Matildas have been hit with more bad news ahead of their clash with Nigeria at the Women's World Cup.

Mary Fowler and Sam Kerr at the Women's World Cup.

The Matildas have been rocked by more bad news in the wake of Sam Kerr's calf injury, with Mary Fowler ruled out of Thursday night's clash with Nigeria due to concussion. Fowler and veteran defender Aivi Luik both suffered mild concussions in separate incidents at a training session on Tuesday, and have both been scratched from the Women's World Cup game at Suncorp Stadium.

It comes as a killer blow for the Matildas, who are now without three of their best forwards. Captain Sam Kerr has a calf injury and Kyah Simon is still recovering from a knee issue.

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Caitlin Foord is now the only recognised striker available for the Nigeria game. Fowler had been poised to line up alongside Foord for a second consecutive match in Kerr's absence after the Matildas held on for a 1-0 win over Ireland in their opening pool game.

Football Australia said Fowler and Luik were both fully recovered, but were unable to play against Nigeria due to concussion protocols. The clash against Nigeria shapes as a huge one for Australia, with the Matildas able to seal progression into the knockout stages with a win.

The Aussies are the only team in Group B with three points from their opening game, but would leave the door open for the other teams with a loss against Nigeria (one point). If Canada (one point) and Ireland (zero points) draw in Perth on Wednesday night, a win on Thursday would lock in top spot for the Matildas ahead of their third group game.

Matildas confident despite multiple injury concerns

Doubts remain over Kerr's availability for the rest of the World Cup, despite Football Australia stating she will only miss the first two games. The exact nature of the injury has not been revealed, leading to many questioning whether it is more severe than first thought.

On Tuesday, Foord said Kerr was working hard to return to the pitch. “Sam being Sam, she wanted the focus to be on the team and not about her," she said. "She’s just doing everything possible to be in the best condition for when she does step back on the pitch. She'll definitely be back this tournament."

Kerr will be re-assessed ahead of the July 31 clash with Canada. But as there is only four days between group games, it appears likely Kerr wouldn't be risked - especially if progression is already sealed.

"I don't know. I don't get to make those calls," midfielder Tameka Yallop said. "We're all just hoping Sam's back as soon as possible. That's up to the coaches. So we'll just keep going."

Mary Fowler and Matildas teammates at an open training session.
Mary Fowler (second from left) warms up during an Australia Matildas open training session. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

While Ireland only had an hour to prepare for a Kerr-less attack, Nigeria will get a full week to break down how it functions without the superstar striker. "It'll probably be a bit more of an open game on Thursday because Ireland do sit in a block and Nigeria do like to press high," said young defender Charli Grant.

"So it might even give them more of an opportunity to shine even more. Of course we want Sam out there but she's just gonna give lots of energy to those girls that are playing her role."

Alanna Kennedy also sat out training on Sunday and had a solo running session at the Queensland Sport and Athletics Centre on Monday while 20 of her teammates were put through their paces. Football Australia attributed Kennedy's absence from main training group to load management.

"I think Alanna's fine. It's just the matter of just resting because she hasn't played very (many) minutes before coming into the World Cup," midfielder Kyra Cooney-Cross told reporters.

with AAP

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