Matildas player Charli Grant has revealed a selfless gesture from Sam Kerr amid her injury heartache. Kerr recently underwent surgery after tearing her ACL during a training camp with club team Chelsea, and her chances of playing at the Olympics in July are slim to none.
But the captain is still thinking of others and not wallowing in her own misery. Speaking to Optus Sport this week, Grant revealed how Kerr had taken the time to check in with her and see how her recent move to Tottenham was going.
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"I've briefly spoken to her, I knew she would be bombarded with messages but we're just trying to show our support," Grant said. "I sent her a message and she was still nice enough to ask how it was all going at Tottenham, so that just shows the type of person she is. She's always thinking about others and about the team before herself.
"Surgery went well, she said, so I can't wait to see her progressing through her rehab. We're all devastated for her but we're going to have her back, and qualifying for the Olympics and getting a medal for her is something we would want to do for her."
Sam Kerr is injured and still thinking about her Matildas teammates 💚💛
“She was still nice enough to ask about how it’s going at Tottenham.” @_charli_grant on @samkerr1 is everything ❤️
The full interview | https://t.co/xTmARg3Jft#OptusSport pic.twitter.com/de5QiTyhlM
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) January 18, 2024
Could Sam Kerr still be picked for Olympics despite injury?
The Matildas will face Uzbekistan in a two-game playoff in February, with the winner to qualify for the Olympics in Paris. The Aussies will have to do it without their inspirational leader Kerr, and will also likely be without her at the Games if they manage to qualify.
An ACL tear usually requires a minimum of nine months recovery, and the end of the football tournament at the Olympics will take place in August - giving Kerr just eights months to be ready. Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has form of picking players coming back from ACL injuries in the hope they'll be ready later in tournaments, as we saw when Kyah Simon was included in his World Cup squad last year.
Simon suffered a setback in her recovery after the squad was already locked in, and she didn't see a minute of action during the tournament. But Gustavsson later confirmed that the striker was available to take a penalty in the semi-final and bronze medal match if required.
That has led to questions over whether Gustavsson would take a similar gamble with Kerr. Earlier this month, leading sports doctor Peter Larkins told News Corp it would be "most unusual" if Kerr was back playing before nine months.
But he said it would theoretically be possible for Kerr to take a penalty kick during the Olympics. “The best patients are up and running in a straight line after three months,” he said. “From three to six months you are doing strength work. If she is just doing the penalty shootout, then it’s definitely possible but I don’t know how that would work from a qualification requirement.”
But complicating matters is the fact the Matildas can only carry 18 players at the Olympics, compared to 23 at the World Cup. The larger squad at the World Cup made it easier for Gustavsson to carry Simon without ramifications, but it might not be so easy with Kerr at the Olympics.
The coach has faced constant criticism during his time in charge for not rotating and resting his starting players during tournaments. One can only imagine the backlash if Kerr is picked for the Olympics and doesn't get on the field.
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