Matildas Big Board: How do you replace Kerr for the Olympics?

Lawson: Kerr's ACL injury a sizeable blow for Chelsea & Australia (2:26)

Sophie Lawson analyses the impact of Sam Kerr's ACL injury for Chelsea. (2:26)

With the Olympic qualifiers against Uzbekistan fast approaching for Australia, it's time for another Matildas Big Board.

Much has happened since we last checked in with untimely and cruel ACL injuries to Holly McNamara and Sam Kerr -- who both made the cut in the last edition of the big board -- shaking up the forward setup enormously.

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While this big board will operate per the same rules as last time and answer the question of who would make an 18-player squad if the Matildas had qualified for the Olympics and the team needed to be picked tomorrow, the most important part of this big board will be figuring out how the Matildas replace Kerr in particular.

Will Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson attempt to look for a like-for-like replacement for Kerr? Does the entire formation need to be tweaked to better accommodate her absence? Did we all see enough in the World Cup games without the captain to persist with that setup? Are there strikers starring in the A-League Women who are ready to take this opportunity?

Let's find out!


Teagan Micah, Mackenzie Arnold, Clare Hunt, Ellie Carpenter, Charli Grant, Alanna Kennedy, Courtney Nevin, Steph Catley, Katrina Gorry, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Tameka Yallop, Emily van Egmond, Clare Wheeler, Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso, Mary Fowler, Amy Sayer, Clare Polkinghorne


Locks: Mackenzie Arnold, Teagan Micah

The goalkeeping duo is unchanged from the last big board with Arnold the No. 1 and Micah the No. 2. While an injury kept Arnold out for a little bit towards the back end of last year and start of this one, she is back in goal for West Ham United with the added responsibility of the captain's armband.

Concerns about Micah's game time have also been allayed as the shot-stopper has increased her time for Liverpool.

In the conversation: Jada Whyman

Healthy and playing, Whyman jumps from bolter to in the conversation as the goalkeeper next in line.

Bolters: Lydia Williams

Injury bumps Williams to the bolters category with the 103-cap Matilda recently undergoing ankle surgery.


Locks: Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley, Charli Grant, Courtney Nevin, Ellie Carpenter, Clare Hunt, Clare Polkinghorne

Australia's first-choice back four remains unchanged, but those just outside that quartet have shifted slightly. Grant's move to Tottenham Hotspur, and consistent starts in England's Women's Super League, means that she is still best placed to do a job on either flank. Nevin also continues to play week in, week out for Leicester City.

Polkinghorne gets elevated to a lock mostly for her experience. Being able to call on a player with 165 caps, especially in a team that has lost its captain, could prove to be invaluable.

In the conversation: Aivi Luik

Since calling her out of retirement, Luik has been one of Gustavsson's go-to defenders. She is consistently playing in Sweden and her BK Hacken side have made the knockouts of the Champions League. While she is squeezed out of the locks in this big board, her inclusion going forward wouldn't be a surprise.

Bolters: Charlie Rule, Amy Harrison

In terms of fringe Matildas, Rule made her debut during the Canada series and appears to be on the periphery when it comes to national team defenders. A slightly more left-field choice but a capped Matilda nonetheless is Harrison. Her move back to a more central defensive position in Western Sydney's back three has proved a crucial change for the team and could be an interesting proposition for Gustavsson to consider.


Locks: Katrina Gorry, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Emily van Egmond, Amy Sayer, Tameka Yallop, Clare Wheeler

Gustavsson's go-to midfield pairing, Gorry and Cooney-Cross, are currently plying their trade for West Ham and Arsenal respectively. While there is some consternation about the amount of game-time Cooney-Cross is getting with the Gunners, she is still undeniably a Matildas starter. The midfield, however, is an area of the pitch which feels the knock-on effects of Kerr's absence.

If Gustavsson decides to tackle Kerr's injury the same way he did during the World Cup, then players like Van Egmond, Sayer -- who jumps from bolter to lock -- and to a lesser extent, Yallop, will be used to fill that gap. This will most likely be in conjunction with Fowler who is listed in this squad as a forward but at this point in her career is more of a concept. Wheeler remains the best option to relieve Gorry or Cooney-Cross of their duties should Gustavsson learn to trust her with the responsibility.

In the conversation: Alex Chidiac, Chloe Logarzo

Chidiac and Logarzo are at two very different points in their respective A-League Women seasons but are both absolutely good enough to make the jump and cause Gustavsson some good headaches. Logarzo is currently one of the form players in the Australian league and should she continue to dominate as strongly as she has been, a Matildas recall feels likely to suss out where she is after such a long time away from the team.

Chidiac is back playing consistent football, which was a much-needed step one for her national team aspirations. While she hasn't yet hit the heights with Victory that saw her win a Julie Dolan medal, she is currently in an environment where she knows she can succeed and should hopefully reap the rewards of that soon.

Bolters: Rachel Lowe

The Melbourne Victory midfielder is enjoying a standout season and the role she is playing for club feels like it would translate well to the national team. While she is a capped Matilda, it has been a long time since she was around the team and that lack of recent contact time may work against her. However, if she continues to star, her form may see her force her way higher into consideration.


Locks: Caitlin Foord, Hayley Raso, Mary Fowler

Much like the World Cup, Foord is going to become even more important to this Matildas team. The Arsenal forward will shoulder a large chunk of the goal-scoring responsibility regardless of whether she is positioned centrally or out wide on the left. Whether Fowler is a forward a midfielder or somewhere in between is semantics, the fact is she is a lock and will also have huge responsibility in driving this team's attack. Raso, despite patchy game time for Real Madrid, rounds out the locked in attackers.

In the conversation: Cortnee Vine

Injury and some inconsistent form mean Vine falls victim to the small squad size in this big board. But as the A-League Women season moves into its second half, and as Sydney FC make a charge for yet another piece of silverware, good form from Vine should push both her team into the finals and herself back into lock considerations.

Bolters: Larissa Crummer, Michelle Heyman, Daniela Galic

Crummer has been a presence in Matildas squads in the last year but has been shoehorned into every position barring her best. She has been a fixture for the Champions League quarterfinal-bound, SK Brann. Heyman is currently the Australian who has scored the most goals in the A-League Women and has naturally been included in striker replacement conversations.

While these players have the goals, assuming Gustavsson utilises the same setup he used in the World Cup group stage, neither feels like they would work in that system. However, goals are goals meaning they can't be ruled out entirely.

Galic represents an option for the future with the Melbourne City starlet finding goals and setting up teammates after starring for the youth national teams.