The “heartbroken” Matildas have rallied around fallen skipper Sam Kerr, whose FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign has been jeopardised by a calf injury.
Kerr walked through Sydney airport on Friday, unaided, but with a bandage on her injured left calf which forced her shock withdrawal from Australia’s team that beat Ireland 1-0 in Thursday night’s Group B clash in Sydney.
The Chelsea star hurt her calf the day at a closed training session on Wednesday, but the Matildas kept the injury a secret until the teams were announced an hour before kick-off.
Kerr has also been ruled of the Matildas’ clash with Nigeria in Brisbane next Thursday night and, depending on the severity of the injury, may miss more games.
Matildas right-back Ellie Carpenter said the team “played” and “won” for Kerr against Ireland.
“It was heartbreaking for Sam personally, and for us (we were) also heartbroken, but we know that she was with us for the whole 90 minutes, and we played for her, we won for her and we know that she’ll be back with us soon,” Carpenter said.
“Being in a team environment, everyone gets around each other during the hard times, and the good times as well, being there no matter what.
“We’re all there for her like she’s always there for us during (hard) times.
“This is the most important time (that) we all rally around her, and we know that she’ll get herself right to come help us in the later stages (of the World Cup).”
Carpenter said she was “proud” of her teammates for putting the Kerr drama behind them to open Australia’s World Cup campaign on a winning note via a penalty from Steph Catley, who wore the captain’s armband in the absence of the team’s regular skipper.
“It was a bit of a rollercoaster. It wasn’t the prettiest game of football, but we knew coming into the game that Ireland were very physical, we knew it was going to be very end-to-end (and) transitional, and we knew all about one moment,” she said.
“Steph stepping up (was) very brave. I knew she was going to (score) that penalty.
“Sometimes you just have to win, it doesn’t have to be pretty, and on to the next (game).
“Now that we’ve checked that first game off, got out all of our nerves, I think we’re going to really hit the ground running in the next game.
“We’re really going to take advantage of the recovery (time) and be as fresh as we can be for Nigeria.”