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Catarina Macario likely to return for Chelsea after international break

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USWNT midfielder Catarina Macario signed with Women's Super League club Chelsea in June. (Clive Howes/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Catarina Macario is nearing a return to action, with Emma Hayes saying on Sunday that it’s likely she’ll return to competition following the international break.

Macario will not be with the U.S. women’s national team (USWNT) for the Gold Cup, and instead could make the bench for Chelsea’s game following that. The 24-year-old has been out since June 2022 after tearing her ACL while playing in the Champions League final for Lyon.

“Do I think she could make the bench for Crystal Palace? She has to feel confident,” Hayes, who is set to take over as USWNT coach following Chelsea’s season, said. “She’s been out a long time. So on one level I could say yes, she will. But the reality is just psychologically, she just feels she needs a little bit more time in training with the team.

“She’s training with the team in all aspects, but she just doesn’t feel quite ready yet. So I’d say slim chance before international break. High chance directly after it.”

Her debut for Chelsea has been anticipated since she signed with the club over the summer. She’s been training with the club, including over their winter break, but has yet to see any game action.

Chelsea are set to face off against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fifth round on Sunday and a clash against Manchester City following that before the international break. The WSL will then return on March 3, with Chelsea playing Leicester.