If Sam Kerr is fit to play 90 minutes she will start against France.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson summed it up when asked what role Australia’s superstar captain would play in Saturday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-finals.
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Kerr has played more than 10 minutes against Denmark so far, with Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler, Emily van Egmond and Hayley Raso playing in the top four in their absence.
But Gustavsson turned down the suggestion of making someone available for Kerr as it could disrupt that dynamic when she is ready to go after returning from her calf injury.
“They were great teammates who supported each other. There weren’t any complaints about starting or coming off the bench – they know their role and they play their role,” said Gustavsson.
“And there’s no way I would consider Sam a disruption to the team.
“I want to make it very clear here that if Sam is able to play 90 minutes, she will be in the starting XI. There’s not even a question and the team knows it.
“We’re talking about Sam Kerr here.
“Whether she’s ready to play 90 minutes plus overtime will be decided tonight. But there is absolutely no doubt that she will start with it.”
Whether Kerr has the minutes to start, having been only minimally involved since her calf injury, is another matter – and will be decided at a medical team meeting on Friday night.
Australia have been mind-playing the striker’s minutes and could certainly use Kerr again from the bench.
“Will she play tomorrow or not? That’s not what worries me,” France coach Herve Renard said via translator.
Forward Eugenie Le Sommer added: “It’s true that she’s a very big player, very good.
“She can score a lot of goals and make the difference, but I never focus on one particular player.”
All 23 players, including Kerr, trained at Perry Park in Brisbane on Friday, although Kyah Simon left the main group early.
France know how it feels to slack off under the pressure of a home Women’s World Cup and lose in the quarter-finals in 2019 and have tried to transfer that to the Matildas.
“We hope Australia goes through what France went through as host country,” Renard said this week.
Defender Ellie Carpenter expects Australia to take the pressure and urged the Brisbane crowd to show interest.
“I love the pressure and I think we love the pressure. We turn that into, “Look around — all these people in this stadium are cheering us on,” she told reporters.
“We don’t take it as pressure. We consider it a privilege to be able to play at home in front of 50,000, 70,000, 30,000 people watching us, cheering us on and that only helps us.
“This is our 12th player on the field and I honestly can’t stress it enough when you go through a difficult period throughout the game and we don’t have the ball for a while and the crowd comes in. That really helps us a lot.”
“It’s no pressure at all. It’s honestly a privilege and I wouldn’t want to do anything other than play that game tomorrow. That’s why we play soccer. It’s for those games.”