Sam Kerr trains separately as depleted Matildas prepare for USA test


Coach Tony Gustavsson faces fielding an underdone Matildas against the United States with 20-30% of the roster unable to train in the two days beforehand and skipper Sam Kerr among those with limited build-up.

Tight international windows have meant plenty of players travelling from Europe only arrived late on Tuesday night, just four days out from Saturday afternoon’s clash at Stadium Australia.

It has meant some selection decisions likely will not be made until match day.

Kerr was not in Friday’s team training session but Gustavsson, in praising his SSSM (Sport Science Sport Medicine) team, played down concerns when confirming the striker trained separately.

“Sam did train today but not with the team. She trained individually because that’s what she needed and some other players did the same thing,” he said

“We’ve tried to do everything we can similar to a World Cup final, meaning, how do we prepare them to be physically and mentally and tactically in the best place possible to play the game tomorrow?

“To be honest, some of the decisions that are to be made might not be able to be made until tomorrow when it comes to the line-up.”

Alanna Kennedy (thigh) is unavailable, along with at least two other players, who Gustavsson would not name lest risk giving the US an early advantage.

He praised his players and staff for their “tremendous ability to adjust to change and uncertainty in circumstances that they can’t control”.

“It’s been a little bit of a challenging camp, to be honest. Almost half of the team arriving late on Tuesday, even some at midnight,” he said. “So we lost two to three trainings at the beginning of the camp here.

“Then without revealing too much with names and such, it’s actually been about 20 to 30% of the roster that haven’t been able to train Thursday, Friday, and we do have some question marks for the game tomorrow.”

Despite the difficulties, Gustavsson planned to test his strongest possible group of players, and stressed that included “game-changers” coming off the bench.

“This isolated game is kind of once in a lifetime opportunity to handle the game similar to a World Cup feeling,” he said.

“So we’re definitely going to try to put a very strong lineup, obviously tomorrow.

“But I also want to be clear, like I said in the Olympics, remember that tournament mode is not just about a starting lineup here. It’s about the finishing line up as well.”

The game is set to be midfielder Tameka Yallop’s 100th cap.