Australia Matildas attacking options which must stand up in the absence of Sam Kerr and Mary Fowler

With two of the Matildas‘ central striking forces missing the team’s group match against Nigeria with injuries, you could be wondering where the goals for Australia will come from on Thursday night.

Down two forwards in Sam Kerr and Mary Fowler, and with Kyah Simon already set down for restricted minutes, the Matildas will need to reach deep in attack to overcome Nigeria and lift Australia out of the group stage.

Disaster first stuck moments before Australia’s highly-anticipated opening match against the Republic of Ireland last Thursday when goal-kicking ace Kerr was ruled out for two matches with a calf injury.

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Now adding to the team’s injury woes Kerr’s heir, Fowler, has also been rubbed out of Thursday’s game in Brisbane with a concussion.

Fowler sustained the head injury while participating in a high-intensity game at training on Tuesday.

Despite the worsening injury crisis, Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson believes his squad has enough depth in attack to carry out Australia’s initial game plan.

“Sometimes you’re unlucky and you need to deal with the cards you’ve been handed, and we’re ready to play those cards,” he told media on Wednesday.

“We have a lot of attacking options still in the roster, but this team has also shown that they’re very adaptable so we might have a different profile of a player but we’re still going to have the same identity.

“We might have a different formation but we’re still going to have the same identity.

“We’ve seen that time after time the last two-three games where we played four or five different formations, and 16 different players against France, but we still had the same identity.”

This sentiment was echoed by acting Matildas captain Steph Catley.

“We’re not the first team that’s had injuries in a major tournament and we won’t be the last, so it’s about how we gather. It’s about how the rest of the squad bounces back and preforms in high-pressure situations in the biggest games,” she said.

“I think that’s something over the last few years that we have really developed. We’ve got a squad that is capable of winning games at any point no matter who is in what position.

“I back every single player that [goes] out there no matter what and hopefully the [other] girls get healthy and ready to be back in the squad quickly.”

Here are some of the Matildas’ star players that must step into the shoes of their injured teammates.

Caitlin Foord

Caitlin Foord is capable of turning any match on its head, especially at a World Cup.

A powerhouse in attack in the Women’s Super League with Arsenal, Foord was no doubt frustrated with her performance in Australia’s 1-0 win over Ireland.

Speaking on the Matildas’ official Instagram account, Foord predicted a hat-trick against Nigeria to add to her existing tally of 29 international goals

“I think two and if I’m feeling it, three,” she said with a smile.

Hayley Raso

An attacking winger with cracking pace and the ability to create innovative opportunities in the final third.

She fired off a couple of long-range shots against Ireland but failed to find her mark.

Raso will be looking to tidy up her game and hit the scoreboard.

Cortnee Vine

In her World Cup debut, the normally dynamic winger struggled to make an impact.

Typically known for setting up her teammates with her ability to get behind opponents and deliver lethal crosses, Vine will need to harness her usual vigour to assist her fellow forwards.

With three goals to her name from 18 caps for Australia, Vine can be extremely dangerous if let loose in the attacking third.

Alex Chidiac

Also contesting her debut World Cup, Alex Chidiac could be poised to come into the starting line-up to assist the Matildas’ sharpshooters.

A creative midfielder, Chidiac has untapped potential that she is yet to satisfy.

Steph Catley

Steph Catley demonstrated her attack-minded defence by scoring Australia’s only goal against Ireland and from the daunting place of the penalty spot.

In her role as stand-in captain, Cately is also responsible for upholding the team’s morale. 

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