Kerr gives every sign she could start for Matildas against England

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Sam Kerr appears in the frame to start against England, looking fresh and energetic at training 24 hours before Australia’s World Cup semi-final.

All 23 players were on the pitch at Jubilee Stadium on Tuesday — at least for the 15 minutes media were permitted to watch — in a positive sign for the most important match in the country’s football history.

Steph Catley’s right thigh was still heavily strapped, as it was when the Matildas travelled back to Sydney from Brisbane on Sunday, but the left-back was moving well in the warm-up.

Midfielder Katrina Gorry, too, had some sort of taping or dressing on the outside of her right calf but did not appear to be hampered.

Once again Kyah Simon was the only player on the sidelines, suggesting the forward is unlikely to play any part in Australia’s campaign, having not even been brought on for a penalty in Saturday’s history-making quarter-final win over France.

But it was Kerr’s sprightly demeanour which offered the most promise. The Matildas captain played 65 minutes off the bench against France and then converted a penalty in the shootout.

Sam Kerr at Matildas training on Tuesday at Jubilee Stadium.Credit: Getty

It was the longest shift at this tournament, having made a 15-minute return from a calf injury in the round of 16 against Denmark, and afterwards declared she was “good to go” on Wednesday.

Whether that means a start is unclear, given her capacity to play a potential 120 minutes is untested, and coach Tony Gustavsson will take advice from his oft-mentioned Triple-SM team as to what she can feasibly contribute.

But to have the Chelsea striker back in his arsenal is a major sign of encouragement, particularly given she played regularly against many in England’s team and has an excellent record against goalkeeper Mary Earps.

Kerr scored against FIFA’s best women’s goalkeeper of 2022 in April, when the Matildas snapped England’s 30-match winning streak via a 2-0 friendly win in London, and did so again a fortnight later when Chelsea defeated Manchester United 1-0 in the FA Cup final.

The Lionesses travel to Sydney on Tuesday from their base on the Central Coast, where the European champions have been preparing to face a hostile crowd at Stadium Australia for a place in the final against either Spain or Sweden.

Later on Tuesday, both Gustavsson and his England counterpart will hold their pre-match press conferences. Mackenzie Arnold, the goalkeeper whose heroics helped propel the Matildas into the final four, will also speak.

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