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Women's World Cup: Kerr return could be crucial for Matildas

Australia's World Cup hopes are on the line when they face Canada on Monday and only a victory will guarantee their passage to the knockout stages.

A 3-2 defeat to Nigeria in their second Group B clash has left the Matildas in a perilous position and they need to bounce back against Canada.

It will not be easy against a Canadian outfit who are unbeaten in the tournament and not only that, but Canada beat Australia in two friendly games last year.

However, the expected return of star striker Sam Kerr and home advantage will weigh in their favour.

An early exit from the World Cup played in their own backyard is almost unthinkable, so the pressure is on the Matlidas heading into this do-or-die clash.

WhatCanada Women v Australia Women
WhereAAMI Park, Melbourne
When20:00 (AEST), Monday 31st July 2023
How to watchChannel 7
OddsCanada Women 3.25, Draw 3.30, Australia Women 2.25

How things stand

Australia picked up a late win against the Republic of Ireland in their first game, but the defeat to Nigeria has left them in danger of failing to qualify from the group.

They sit third in Group B, one point behind Nigeria, who top the group, and Monday’s opponents Canada.

The Matildas have to win to guarantee their place in the top two and if Nigeria slip up against the Republic of Ireland, they could still take top spot.

They are 4.33 to win the group, with Nigeria 1.80 and Canada 3.00.

A draw against Canada could also be enough but then it would get complicated and they would need a lot to go their way to sneak through.

Victory against Canada by whatever margin will be enough and that will be the only aim for the Matildas heading into the game.

Australia are currently priced at 26.00 to win the World Cup, but making it through the group is now the only focus.

Finishing second in the group could also mean a clash with England in the next round, which is not ideal, but better than going out and they would take it.

Kerr ready to return

Australia have had to do without their star player, Chelsea forward Kerr, in the opening two games, but it looks as though she is set to return against Canada.

Kerr picked up a calf injury in training in the days leading up to the tournament and has been watching on from the sidelines.

There has been a huge question mark over whether she would feature at all in the tournament, but Kerr confirmed on Saturday that she would definitely line up against Canada.

Kerr had the boots back on for the first time on Saturday and did take part in training, but it is unclear what that looked like.

Former players have concerns that Kerr will only know if she has recovered once she can run at full speed.

Coach Tony Gustavsson now has a tough decision to make and he could opt to start Kerr on the bench then bring her on late in the game if the Matildas need a goal to prevent them from going out.

If Kerr does take to the pitch against Canada, she can be backed at 2.20 to grab a goal at anytime in the game.

Double boost for Matildas

The Matildas have been handed a boost with the news that Mary Fowler is available again after missing the Nigeria clash through concussion.

Fowler’s return means that Gustavsson now has the option of pairing her in attack alongside Caitlin Foord if Kerr does not start the clash.

She can be backed at 8.00 to score the first goal of the game, while Foord is available at 7.50.

Meanwhile, in other team news, defender Aivi Luik has also recovered from concussion and is available to play.

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