Talking to The World Game from Brazil, where the Matildas are deep into the final stage of their preparation for next month’s tournament, Kerr said she was feeling good both mentally and physically after getting a lot of training and some recent game-time into her legs.
“Mentally, I’m excited and in a good place now that I’m back playing,” Kerr said. “I’ve had a long break, but I feel like I’m better for it, like I’ve come back fitter, and I feel like that’s always the way with me with injuries.
“And physically, I’m feeling fit and sharp. I’ve got two weeks left of training hard and getting a bit more running under my belt, but if the first game of the Olympics was tomorrow I’d be ready to play.
“If I couldn’t play a significant part in the campaign I wouldn’t be here, because it’s too small a squad for ‘Staj’ (coach Alen Stajcic) to pick people who could only contribute a little bit. So wherever the team needs me or Staj calls upon me, I’ll be ready to go.”
Kerr, 22, arrived in Brazil after the bulk of the squad, having stayed in the US to make her playing comeback with her New Jersey-based National Women’s Soccer League team Sky Blue FC.
She ruptured a ligament in her left foot playing for Perth Glory in the W-League last November.
“I played in several games prior to coming to Brazil and I’ve played in one game since I got here,” Kerr said. “The rest of the girls had a few games prior to that.
“The minutes in games isn’t the most important part for me at the moment, it’s about getting the legs ticking over and if that’s not in the game it’s been at training, doing fitness. So I’ve had some game-time and I’m doing a lot of training to get the miles in my legs.
“The training has been hard, but we’ve been getting a lot out of it. It’s great to be back with the girls and working together.”
The preparation will continue when the Matildas play Brazil in Fortaleza on Saturday (5am Sunday, AEST time).
Asked if she expected to play in that game, Kerr said: “That’s up to the coaches, it’s not really my decision. I would love to play and if they pick me I’ll be ready to play and I’m sure that’s the same as every other person in the team. So we’ll see what happens.”
Stajcic said he was happy with Kerr’s progress and that he viewed her as a “weapon” in the squad of 18.
“Sam’s not fully fit yet, so we’re trying to get her some match fitness without re-doing the injury,” Stajcic said. “It’s a tough one for her, but she’s definitely a weapon in our arsenal and we’ve got to get her as strong as we can before the competition starts.
“She played in two or three matches before getting here, including one game where she played the full 90 minutes. We let her stay back for an extra week in the US just to get that 90-minute match in.
“But it’s the only 90-minute match she has played since she got the injury, so we’ve got to be careful with her and make sure we keep her fit and healthy.”
Asked if he saw Kerr as mainly a bench option, at least in the early stages of the Olympics, Stajcic replied: “I’m not sure at this stage, but that’s obviously one of the options.
“She will play a part though, that’s for sure. We’ve only got 18 players so we can’t afford to have someone who can’t contribute. But I think she can, and will. I think she’ll be OK.”
Kerr said the Matildas weren’t afraid to aim high in Rio.
“Gold medal, nothing less,” she said. “We’ll be disappointed if we don’t get the gold and very disappointed if we don’t medal at all.”