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Kerr needs late fitness test before Australia face France
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Press Association
Australia captain Sam Kerr hopes to start against France after injury (Mark Baker/AP)
Australia captain Sam Kerr hopes to start against France after injury (Mark Baker/AP)

Australia will make a late call on captain Sam Kerr’s fitness for their Women’s World Cup showdown with France.

Chelsea striker Kerr missed the group stage with a calf injury but came off the bench for the final 10 minutes in the round-of-16 victory over Denmark.

Australia boss Tony Gustavsson must now decide whether Kerr is fit to start Saturday’s quarter-final date with Les Bleues at Brisbane Stadium.

“If Sam is fit to play 90 minutes, she is starting,” Gustavsson said at his pre-match press conference.

“That’s not even a question, and the team knows it.

“I definitely would never, ever see Sam as a disturbance to the team. We’re talking about Sam Kerr.

“Whether she is ready to play 90 minutes plus extra time, that’s to be decided tonight.”

Australia have coped well without all-time top scorer Kerr, scoring six goals in their past two matches – following up a 4-0 win over Canada in their final group game with a 2-0 success against Denmark.

It has been an impressive response to the shock 3-2 defeat by Nigeria that threatened their participation in the knockout stages of a home tournament.

“I look at all the preparation we’ve done over the last few weeks but being ready doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy,” said former United States assistant coach Gustavsson.

“I had the privilege to be in five quarter-finals before this one in three Olympics and two World Cups and you get unhealthily addicted to these types of games.

“This is what you love, this is what you want. I am so happy that the players will get this experience and we will embrace every second of it.”

France, ranked fifth in the world and five places above Australia, have scored 12 goals in three games since opening with a goalless draw against Jamaica.

Brazil (2-1) and Panama (6-3) were beaten in the group stage before Morocco were brushed aside 4-0 in the last 16.

Gustavsson said: “They have proved over this tournament that they have extreme attacking threats: central, left and right.

“They attack with numbers and are brave, technical and fast.

“The one thing they have instilled in this tournament is the work ethic when they lose the ball.

“They are extremely aggressive when they lose the ball, so you get very little time when you win it.

“That’s probably the extra they have over us and that’s going to be the number one challenge to sort.

“But what we have proven is that our defensive structure and defensive work rate has been enormous – we have kept five clean sheets in our last six games – and we have also been very composed in front of goal.

“Once we do break that pressure we know how fast we can attack and one moment can decide the game.”


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