Tameka Yallop insists she’s fit to play against Nigeria on Thursday, but for her star Matildas teammate Sam Kerr, the reality of her own battle to take part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup seemed to hit home at Australia’s training session on Sunday.
Kerr, who injured her calf the day before the Matildas’ first-up Cup 1-0 win over Ireland last Thursday night, cut a lonely and dejected figure as she sat on an esky watching the rest of Australia’s squad train in Brisbane on Sunday.
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The Chelsea striker has already been ruled out of the Matildas’ battle with the Nigerians at Suncorp Stadium, and remains no certainty to be fit for Australia’s clash with Canada on Monday week in Melbourne.
Kerr had earlier on Sunday put on a brave face when signing autographs for fans and laughing with her teammates before the start of the training session.
However, it was hard not to sympathise with her as she was reduced to watching from the sidelines as Matildas were put through their paces for the first time since beating the Irish.
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“It’s disappointing for her personally but she’s also very supportive,” Yallop said of her injured captain.
“Sam’s just like any other player. We’re a team of 23 and she supports us from the bench, and we support her right back as well.
“She still brings that (presence) no matter if she’s sitting on the sidelines or in amongst it. We have a lot of personalities within the team as well, so if she’s not there for whatever reason, there are other players that will bring her drive to the team.”
Kerr again didn’t train on Monday morning, while Kyah Simon was again missing. The Spurs striker has not played since an ACL injury last September and has not participated fully in any training sessions with the Matildas in the last fortnight, leading to fears she may not recover in time to feature this tournament.
It presents a significant concern for the Matildas’ attacking ranks.
Alanna Kennedy was on restricted duties on Monday, as well as Sunday (where Clare Hunt was also limited), but that was reportedly due to workload management.
The versatile Yallop is among a host of veteran Matildas who will “drive” Australia in Kerr’s absence.
The Norway-based 32-year-old former Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City star it itching to play on Thursday night after taking no part in the game against Ireland due to a thigh injury she suffered in Australia’s 1-0 friendly win over France on July 14.
“I’m back on the park and good to go,” said Yallop, who added that the “minor” injury had been a corked third.
“I’ve had plenty of corks in the past, so I knew the process and it was just really about being patient and letting it recover.
“For me, there wasn’t really any doubt that I wouldn’t be OK for the remainder of the World Cup, so it was just about being patient for me
“I always love coming back to Queensland. I’m looking forward to playing at (Suncorp) Stadium. I have lots of fond memories there, and we’d love to create more.”
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