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Emma Hayes: USWNT’s Catarina Macario unlikely to return until 2024

Catarina Macario is still recovering from an ACL tear she sustained in June 2022. (Harriet Lander/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes said on Friday that Catarina Macario is unlikely to play until 2024, as she continues to recover from an ACL injury suffered in June 2022.

Hayes, who will begin her coaching duties with the U.S. women’s national team in May, recruited Macario to her club from Olympique Lyonnais in July. Hayes has never fielded Macario in a match due to the ACL rupture.

Hayes has described Macario as “one of the most intelligent, creative attacking players in the world.” And while Hayes’ tenure at Chelsea is coming to an end, she’ll still get to coach Macario during the 2024 Olympics in Paris as part of the USWNT, as long as the forward is healthy.

Macario is set to become a staple of the USWNT’s attack after multiple players have hung up their boots in recent years, including Megan Rapinoe.

But Macario has been sidelined since last summer, and Hayes believes it’s best not to rush her back to the pitch.

“When you’ve been out a long time, this isn’t about me withholding something, this is about the recognition that – with all the will in the world – you can’t just put a player on the grass with a knee history, and sometimes if the knee blows up, you then have to come back off it again,” Hayes told Forbes.

Macario is unlikely to appear for Chelsea until after the New Year, and there is no specific timetable for her return.