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Preview, Australia vs USA at Stadium Australia, team selection, Sam Kerr, Tony Gustavsson, news

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Mystery surrounds the make up of the Matildas team – including whether skipper Sam Kerr will play – for Saturday’s clash against the USA at Stadium Australia.

Fearful of giving an advantage to the Americans, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson was playing his cards close to his chest at Friday’s pre-game press conference.

Gustavsson would only confirm what was already known – defender Alanna Kennedy won’t play due to a quad injury.

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The Swede – who is treating the match as a dress rehearsal for the 2023 Women’s World Cup final being played at the same venue – was otherwise coy and cautious about revealing any team news.

“We do have some question marks for the game,” Gustavsson said.

“We also have at this point three players that are unavailable for selection for the game.

“I don’t want to go into names at this time because I don’t want to give the US an advantage.”

Adding to the intrigue was captain Kerr’s no show at the press conference. Instead, Gustavsson was accompanied by vice-captain Steph Catley.

Kerr also didn’t train with her Matildas teammates on Friday.

Sam Kerr trained separately from her Matildas teammates on Friday. Picture: Mark Kolbe / Getty Images
Sam Kerr trained separately from her Matildas teammates on Friday. Picture: Mark Kolbe / Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“Sam did train but not with the team,” Gustavsson said.

“She trained individually because that’s what she needed, and some other players did the same thing.

“We’ve tried to do everything we can similar to a World Cup final – meaning, how do we prepare them to be physically and mentally and tactically in the best place possible to play the game (on Saturday)?

“To be honest, some of the decisions that are to be made might not be able to be made until (Saturday) when it comes to the line-up.

“We’re definitely going to try to put a very strong line-up on the field … but it’s not just about the starting line-up, it’s about the finishing line-up as well.”

Gustavsson said the camp for the two-game series – which also includes a match in Newcastle on Tuesday night – had so far been “challenging”.

“Almost half of the team arrived late on Tuesday, even some at midnight, so we lost two to three training (sessions) at the beginning of the camp.

“It’s actually been about 20 to 30 per cent of the roster that haven’t been able to train Thursday (and) Friday.”

Should attacking midfielder Tameka Yallop play on Saturday, she will be become the 12th player to have made a century of Matildas appearances.

“She brings so much on and off the field,” Gustavsson said of Yallop.

“She brings so much of the core values of this team. She’s always doing what’s best for the team.”

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