Sam Kerr Olympic truth Australia will just have to accept

Sorry to break it to you Australia but we’re going to have to fight for Olympic glory without Sam Kerr.

The superstar’s ACL injury while training at Chelsea’s warm-weather camp in Morocco thrust a dagger through the heart of every Aussie hoping our Matildas may go a few steps further than they did at the World Cup and leave the Olympics with some hardware.

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While that’s not out of the question, it’s a whole lot harder without one of the world’s best players in Kerr.

The Olympics not starting until July 26 has given plenty of people hope that it may well be possible for Kerr to return to the field in time, with over six months to go until the Paris Games.

Australia has not yet qualified for the Olympics and will travel to Uzbekistan on February 24 before the return rubber at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium to decide which team will qualify.

The Matildas will have to do it without their inspirational 30-year-old captain.

Kerr will certainly miss the remainder of Chelsea’s season and will have to watch on as her team plays for a fifth successive English Women’s Super League title.

This injury is also not Kerr’s first rodeo as she has previously suffered an ACL injury in 2011 and a second knee injury in 2014.

And she knows that it’s more than a long shot for her to be ready by July for up to seven games in two-and-a-half weeks.

Kerr’s father Roger also told 6PR radio that she wouldn’t be back until 2025 and was resigned to missing the Olympics.

“Sam’s a pretty positive person and she’s virtually said that’s life, that’s football,” he said.

“I know what I’m in for … and she’s looking to 2025.”

But already the talk has become how to get Kerr ready for the Games.

Players with ACL injuries rarely return to the field in less than nine months and often require 12 months to fully heal.

However, if it’s anything like Kerr’s calf injury during the World Cup, get ready for the speculation.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Andrew Webster spoke with leading Sydney sports doctor Tom Cross, whose father Merv developed the “cross bracing protocol” which requires patients to have their knee set at a 90 degree angle for four weeks before progressively straightening it over the next 12 weeks.

It’s a procedure that allows patients to avoid surgery and has reportedly worked on hundreds of patients, including female soccer stars.

While Cross told the SMH that it could work, it “would be better dependent on the pattern of ACL injury seen on MRI”.

However, if it doesn’t work, it could set her recovery back three months.

Speculation has also emerged that Kerr could be taken as a shootout specialist.

But against this theory is that only 18-player squads are named, unlike the 23 from the World Cup.

Kyah Simon was selected despite being injured just for a shootout scenario at the World Cup despite being injured, but there’s not the same luxury at the Olympics.

Although 18-players are in the squad, each team can have four reserve players in case of injury, which could be used carry Kerr, but it would be a big risk.

Socceroos legend Mark Schwarzer said that he believed that while there has been talk of Aussie coach Tony Gustavsson even taking her as part of his backroom staff, he believes she’d be better off staying away from Paris.

“If it was me, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the squad as an injured player,” Schwarzer said on Optus Sport.

“First of all, the Olympics has tighter restrictions on the number of people allowed to travel with the squad, but secondly I’d be far more focused on my own recovery.

“I never wanted to be in that environment if I wasn’t fit to play because I always wanted to make sure I was somewhere where I could give myself the best chance of getting fit and have the most attention from the medical staff on me to do that.

“If Sam’s in Paris with the rest of the squad, it means she’s not prioritising herself and her own recovery, especially as all of the medical staff with the squad will be giving preference to the players who are playing in the tournament ahead of her.”

He added that the Matildas aren’t the same team they were before the World Cup and know there is life without Sam Kerr.

As painful as it is and as much as we want to hold on to hope, we’re just going to have to accept the reality and back our champion Matildas to do the job without Sam Kerr.

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