Speaking to reporters in Brisbane on the eve of the match with France, Gustavsson stated on Friday that there’s no doubt concerning Kerr’s role if she’s deemed fit to play the full match.
“If Sam is fit to play 90 minutes, she’s starting,” he said.
“There’s not even a question, and the team knows it. We’re talking about Sam Kerr here. Whether she’s ready to play 90 minutes plus any potential extra time will be decided tonight. But there is no question whatsoever that if she is, she’s starting.”
Kerr has made only a single appearance in this Women’s World Cup, coming off the bench in the round of 16, after sustaining a calf injury just a day before Australia’s inaugural match.
In her absence, the Matildas, without their captain and all-time leading scorer, achieved their joint-best performance at the World Cup, making it to the quarterfinals for the fourth instance, Xinhua reported.
Should Kerr get the nod to start against France in Brisbane, she might take the place of either Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso, or Mary Fowler-all of whom have netted goals in the tournament.
However, Gustavsson refuted the idea that leaving out one of the top three forwards would affect the momentum that has propelled Australia to this stage.
The 2023 World Cup, jointly hosted by Australia and New Zealand, runs from July 20 to August 20. Notably, only the top two teams from the eight groups advanced to the round of 16, making it the first Women’s World Cup to feature 32 teams.