Australia star Sam Kerr out for group stage with calf injury

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 20: Sam Kerr of Australia is seen prior to the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group B match between Australia and Ireland at Stadium Australia on July 20, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Australia’s Sam Kerr has scored 63 goals in 120 appearances for her country. She could return for the knockout rounds of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Australia star Sam Kerr is out for the group stage of the Women’s World Cup and maybe even longer.

Kerr, 29, is one of the best forwards in women’s soccer and is the best female Australian soccer player of all-time. Just before announcing the starting lineup for its opening game against Ireland, Australia said Kerr had picked up a calf injury in training and would be out for the three group stage games.

Kerr was on the sideline for Australia’s game against Ireland in track pants and a coat.

Australia entered the 2023 Women’s World Cup as a sleeper pick to win the title at home. The Matildas should still have enough to get out of Group B and advance to the knockout rounds, but their chances of winning the World Cup are significantly diminished if Kerr cannot play. Group B also includes Canada and Nigeria; they play each other Thursday night (Friday in Australia).

Before Kerr’s injury was known, Australia was the No. 5 favorite to win the tournament at +900 at BetMGM behind the United States, England, Spain and Germany.

Kerr plays her club soccer for Chelsea and scored 12 goals and had five assists in 21 league matches this season. She scored 20 goals in 20 Women’s Super League matches in 2021-22 and had 21 goals in 22 appearances in 2020-21.

She’s appeared in 120 games for Australia and has scored 63 goals. The Perth native got her first cap for Australia at the age of 15 and the 2023 World Cup was set to be her fourth World Cup appearance. Even if she does return for the knockout rounds, Kerr’s absence is yet another blow for a tournament that is missing numerous stars due to injury.

Kerr became the first Australian woman to score a hat trick at the World Cup in 2019 and played a huge role in Australia’s fourth-place finish at the 2020 Olympics.