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Sam Kerr could start semifinal game after giving Australia ‘momentum’

Sam Kerr gave Australia a lift in the quarterfinal. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Sam Kerr played 65 minutes in Australia’s victory over France on Saturday in the quarterfinals, her longest outing yet in the World Cup. The star forward suffered a calf injury before the tournament and had played minimal minutes before Saturday.

Kerr gave Australia a much-needed boost, and after the team defeated France in penalty kicks, 7-6, there is growing hope that the all-time leading scorer in Australian international history will be able to start the semifinal match against England.

“Everyday I’m feeling better,” Kerr said afterwards. “Last game really gave me confidence, going in for 20 minutes, and getting a bit of a run. And then two training sessions under my belt. I’m feeling really good.”

Tony Gustavsson, Australia’s coach, was criticized by some for not starting Kerr against France. He said the “biggest decision” of the match was when to bring Kerr in as a substitute.

“I was informed that she had limited minutes today,” Gustavsson said. “And then we needed to put extra time into consideration. That was a massive decision to get right. When Sam came in we really had them on the hook. We really got the momentum, and from the fans as well.”

Kerr said the plan when she injured her calf was to be back in the starting lineup for the semifinal. And now, after the team’s dramatic penalty kicks victory in the quarterfinal, she is right on schedule – with a newfound respect for coming off the bench.

“It’s not easy,” she said. “I don’t envy people who are super-subs because it’s an amazing job they do. I just tried my best.”