Sam Kerr: Australia & Chelsea striker ruled out of Paris Olympics

Sam Kerr
It usually takes at least nine months for professional athletes to return to fitness after an ACL injury [EPA]

Australia striker Sam Kerr has officially been ruled out of the 2024 Paris Olympics, as she recovers from an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear.

The 30-year-old was injured during a Chelsea training camp in January.

Announcing a squad for Australia's pre-Olympics friendlies, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said Kerr would not return in time for the Games in July.

Kerr, arguably Australia's biggest sporting idol, is the nation's all-time record goalscorer.

She is the latest in a long list of high-profile female footballers - including England captain Leah Williamson and Dutch striker Vivianne Miedema - to suffer an ACL injury. It usually takes at least nine months for professional athletes to return to fitness after surgery.

The Matildas have had a difficult run-up to the Olympics, with several key players sidelined by injury.

Midfielder Katrina Gorry has been out after ankle surgery, defender Clare Hunt has battled a foot fracture, and stalwart Aivi Luik has a hamstring injury. Young midfielder Amy Sayer also tore her ACL last month and has been ruled out of the Olympics.

Before the send-off matches against China, Gustavsson said selection for the 18-strong Olympics squad had become a complicated equation - with some hopefuls racing against time to return to the field.

"This window will be a tough one for me and my staff in terms of evaluating players, where they are, and then the final selection process for Paris," he said.

Kerr was expected to be an integral part of the Matildas medal campaign in Paris, after the team just missed the podium at the previous Olympics in Tokyo and the World Cup in Australia last year.

Since joining Chelsea in 2020, Kerr has won five successive Women's Super League titles, three Women's FA Cups, two Women's League Cups and the Women's Community Shield.

She has scored 99 goals for the Blues and a further 64 for Australia, and has also been nominated for the Ballon d'Or Feminin - the top prize in women's football - every year since its inception in 2018.

But it has been a difficult 12 months for Kerr. She spent much of the home World Cup on the bench with a calf strain, and shortly after her ACL injury, was in January charged with racially aggravated harassment of a London police officer, to which she has pleaded not guilty.