Kerr-tastrophe: Sam set to spend year on the sidelines after training mishap – ‘a devastating blow for everyone’
Australia’s captain and star striker Sam Kerr has suffered an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury during Chelsea’s warm weather training camp in Morocco, the English Women’s Super League club has said.
The injury will almost certainly rule the 30-year-old out of the Paris Olympics should Australia qualify as expected.
The news was described as “devastating” by Matildas manager Tony Gustavsson.
“Considering how hard Sam has worked over the past six months to return to play, this news is a devastating blow for everyone,” Gustavsson said.
“With her ability to lead by example, Sam’s guidance and influence on the team is significant and, as a result, this will be an incredible loss for the national team.
“Our focus now is on ensuring she has all the support she wants and needs to navigate recovery and rehab,” Gustavsson concluded.
Kerr has already been ruled out of the second half of Chelsea’s WSL and European Champions League campaigns, and Australia’s AFC Women’s Olympic Qualifiers Round 3 series against Uzbekistan next month.
The World Cup semi-finalists need only to win that two-leg tie – against a team ranked 47th in the world, 35 places below the Matildas – to qualify for Paris.
The Games soccer tournament takes place from 24 July – 10 August, but it is rare for a player to return from an ACL injury with less than eight months rehabilitation, and it often takes longer.
Kerr is the latest leading women’s player to suffer the injury, which seems more prevalent in the women’s game and is belatedly the subject of research into why this is.
Ellie Carpenter, Kyah Simon, Chloe Logarzo and Elise Kellond-Knight are among Australian players to have suffered ACL injuries in recent years.
England’s Beth Mead and Leah Williamson, Vivianne Miedema of the Netherlands and France’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto were among a string of stars to miss the World Cup while Spain’s Alexia Putellas had only just returned to playing and is still to regain her former level.
Kerr, runner-up to Spain’s Aitana Bonmati at the Ballon d’Or awards last year, is Australia’s record goalscorer with 69 in 128 matches.
Chelsea said she “will be assessed by a specialist in the coming days and then begin her rehabilitation with the club’s medical team”.
Kerr has scored 99 goals in 128 games for the club, winning the WSL Golden Boot twice, four league titles and three FA Cups – scoring in each final, but is out of contract this summer.
She was recently joined in London by her partner, American player Kristie Mewis, who joined WSL rivals West Ham United.