In Focus: Matildas hero Kerr looks to lay down marker against Lionesses
Australia's World Cup poster girl Sam Kerr will test herself against European champions England tonight.
The Lionesses host the Matildas at Brentford's Gtech Community Stadium as excitement for the showpiece Down Under in July and August builds.
With Chelsea ace Kerr undoubtedly the player for Sarina Wiegman's side to watch out for, we turn the spotlight on the 29-year-old goal machine.
Business as usual
Kerr has been a scoring sensation ever since her arrival on English shores in January 2020 and this season has been no different.
The Aussie captain has scored 23 goals in 29 appearances in all competitions as the Blues continue to battle in this season's competitive Women's Super League title race as well as chasing an elusive Champions League crown.
She recently marked her 100th appearance for the West Londoners with her 81st strike in royal blue, with her tally now standing at an extraordinary 84 goals in 107 outings.
Club boss Emma Hayes recently told Sky Sports: "Sam means everything to this team because we can count on her.
"Ever since she's been here she's on the grass all the time. With someone like Sam she not only makes the difference on the pitch, but she does it off the pitch too."
Unsurprisingly, Kerr is as much of a hero back home as she is to the Blues faithful at Kingsmeadow.
Her equally impressive international record reads 62 goals in 119 caps, seeing her claim the accolade of record goalscorer for her country.
Hopes of a successful tournament for the 10th-ranked co-hosts rest firmly on Kerr's shoulders, with Arsenal's Caitlin Foord and Mary Fowler of Manchester City among the other Matildas currently turning out in the WSL.
But the skipper knows using the showpiece as a springboard to grow the women's game in Australia and New Zealand — much like tonight's opponents did last summer — is just as important as matters on the pitch.
Kerr said: "I think we already have the highest participation rate in the country, so it's about getting the people higher up to believe in the sport.
"You see the funding that AFL, rugby, all those sports get before women's football, I think it's about getting the money into football to allow girls to play, to allow girls to have the opportunities to get to where they want to be.
"With the Socceroos' success at the World Cup, we saw the amount of funding highlighted.
"So we have the participation, we have the love for the game, but the lasting legacy will hopefully be that we get the funding that the sport deserves."
Australia's World Cup credentials will be given a stern test against last summer's European Championship winners this evening.
The Lionesses added the Finalissima trophy to their list of achievements by beating South American champions Brazil last Thursday — extending their unbeaten streak to 30 games — and will arrive in West London in high spirits.
There has been speculation over whether Australia's star striker would be available for the sold-out clash after sitting out last week's 1-0 defeat to Scotland.
But England boss Wiegman believes a fresher Kerr will only make her more dangerous this evening.
The Dutch coach said: "They rested her for a little bit for tomorrow's game, I think.
"Australia have had some very good results and I don't think the game against Scotland really represents what they have done.
"They're very physical, they've very direct — and, of course they have Kerr up front."
As Wiegman points out, teams always have a chance when Kerr is on the field and the Matildas will hope that rings true for them tonight and later this year.