Australia captain Kerr available to face Canada

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Australia captain and top player Sam Kerr said on Saturday she would be available to play in the crunch Women’s World Cup clash against Olympic champions Canada on Monday.

The talismanic striker has been sidelined with a calf injury and missed both Australia’s opening 1-0 win over Ireland in Sydney and the stunning 3-2 loss to Nigeria in Brisbane that left their campaign hanging by a thread.

The Matildas are a point behind Nigeria and Canada in Group B and need all three points from their final opening-round fixture against the North Americans to be guaranteed a spot in the knockout rounds.

The 29-year-old said she was “feeling good” and would be available but was cagey about how she would be deployed by coach Tony Gustavsson at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

“I would love to tell you guys everything,” she told reporters at the team base in Brisbane.

“But being in sport a long time, that’s a massive thing that the opposition wants to know. And like Tony said, it’s going to go down to the wire.

“I’m definitely going to be available, but how we decide to use that is, you know, not to be given to the opposition.”

As Australia’s all-time leading scorer with 63 goals in 121 internationals, it would be extraordinary if Gustavsson left a fully fit Kerr out of his starting line up for Monday’s match.

Her injury cast a pall over the Matildas’ opening win in front of 75,784 fans at Stadium Australia and became the focus of huge national interest after the loss to Nigeria.

“I’m going to be there, I’m going to be ready. Like we said at the very, very start of this, the plan was always to miss the first two games and then reassess,” Kerr said.

“That’s where we are now. I had my boots on today, very exciting.”

Defender Ellie Carpenter said Mary Fowler, who replaced Kerr up front against Ireland but missed the Nigeria game because of concussion, had also completed training on Saturday.

The Matildas right back said Kerr had remained an important leader for the team even while injured but was delighted to see her back on the pitch.

“I’m really happy she did put the boots on today and is available for Monday,” Carpenter said.

“It’s a massive boost for us to get our captain, our leader, and such a world class player back in our squad.”